Message to the Bowdoin Community — January 30, 2017

To the Bowdoin community,

The executive order on immigration signed Friday by President Trump causes me to write to restate Bowdoin’s values and our approach in these matters.

As you know, the order signed by the president—“Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”—immediately modified aspects of immigration law in the US and suspended all refugee admissions into the country for 120 days. It also blocked citizens of the Muslim-majority nations of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. As we have all seen in the news over the weekend, enforcement of this order has created chaos and a great deal of hardship and uncertainty for many people. Amid protests, federal judges in three states moved to block certain aspects of the order, and late Sunday, it appeared that the White House might be scaling back some of its provisions.

There are many aspects of this action that are deeply troubling, including the challenge to fundamental values of our nation and the very real possibility that American higher education will be damaged as great students and scholars are barred from the country and educations are sidelined or worse. Still, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how this will all unfold.

What is certain is that we at Bowdoin will continue to do all that we can to support every member of our community.

This order has the potential to harm students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities across the country—including here at Bowdoin—and to also put their family members at risk. As I wrote to you in November, Bowdoin will continue to safeguard privacy and confidentiality, including immigration status, for members of our community. Our Safety and Security personnel do not enforce immigration laws or make inquiries about the immigration status of students or employees. And, unless compelled by law, we will do nothing that would put a member of our community in this kind of jeopardy. We will keep working to assist and to provide access to expert counsel to those who may need it, and to make other resources available. We know our community, and if we know of an individual who may be in jeopardy because of these new laws we are assisting them. If you think we may have missed someone, please be in touch with staff in student affairs or human resources.

Students with plans for international travel or with concerns about their visa status are advised to seek counsel from Khoa Khuong, assistant dean of first-year students (798-7026). Faculty and staff with similar concerns should consult with Tama Spoerri in Human Resources (725-3837). As previously announced, we invite students, staff, and faculty to join Portland, Maine, attorneys Mike Murray and Sara Fleming of Ford/Murray Law on Monday, February 6, at 4:00 p.m. in Main Lounge, Moulton Union, as they discuss the challenges associated with current and potential immigration policies.