As you all know, on Friday, Jan. 27, the White House issued an executive order placing certain new limits on entrance to this country, particularly for people traveling from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Nothing has changed at Greensboro College regarding the goals and values set out in our mission and vision statements or in our commitment to the church’s call for social justice and human dignity. We remain the same welcoming, inclusive and supportive place we were before last Friday, the same such place we have been for 178 years.
I would ask you to review college’s Mission Statement and Vision Statement (which appear on our website). Both statements discuss the college’s grounding in “the traditions of the United Methodist Church.” Those traditions, as student Paul Freeman pointed out in a letter to me, include openness, inclusivity, mercy and justice.
In addition, some of you will remember that in early 2015, the National Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) issued a statement calling upon all member schools to lead on behalf of social justice and human dignity by dedicating the years 2015 and 2016 to justice and dignity. Greensboro College did so in a number of ways, ranging from hosting a summit of faith leaders and social workers on campus to devoting its Tannenbaum-Sternberger Colloquium Series to social justice and human dignity (2015-2016) and to free speech and social justice (2016-2017).
As I write, I am expecting to receive a similar but updated statement from NASCUMC continuing the call for social justice and human dignity. We likely will affirm it in its entirety, as we did with the first call in 2015. (That 2015 statement also is on the website, at the link above.)
Next, I wanted to inform you about what we are doing in response to the executive order. The American Council on Education, a group of Washington-based educational associations including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), which focuses on representing private, nonprofit higher education on public policy issues in Washington, D.C., has sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
That letter, which you may read here, stresses the need for keeping America the top destination for the world’s best and brightest students, faculty, and scholars. It asks the department to use its discretion to facilitate the travel and study of as many international students and scholars as possible.
In the meantime, I’d like to:
- Reiterate the message of inclusion in our mission and vision statements. Our mission statement calls upon us to support students’ individual needs, and to the greatest extent possible, we will do so.
- Request that all campus members conduct themselves respectfully and to uphold our vision and mission statements.
- Reiterate the invitation to Dr. Joy Lough’s event, “The Next Four Years: Impact,” from 12 to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in Cowan Lecture Hall. Speakers will be addressing various issues related to unity, immigration, the economy, unemployment, Cabinet selections, and executive orders. Such discussions are part and parcel of life on a college campus, and discussions such this also align directly with our Quality Enhancement Plan, “The Informed Citizen.”
- Reiterate the invitation from Professor Johns and the staff of the Collegian to utilize the Collegian’s (physical) message board on the second floor of Cowan, just outside Cowan Lecture Hall, to express whatever you might be feeling in a safe space.
- Remind students that our counselors, Emily Holmes and Kristin Franks, are available for confidential discussions at no cost weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can make an appointment by emailing email@example.com.
- Remind students, faculty and staff that Cathryn Bennett, our director of international programs, also is a resource, particularly for students with international connections. If you have questions or concerns about your visa or other official document status, or if you simply need a safe place to discuss how you feel about the changes in U.S. immigration policy and your life here, you are welcome to speak with her at any time. Should your friends or family require the same kind of support, she can recommend immigration attorneys in Greensboro and the Triad. Her office is 328 Main and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Request other faculty and staff who are willing to do so to openly identify themselves and their offices as “safe spaces” where students can discuss their experiences and concerns without fear of retribution.
I realize that the days ahead offer a great deal of uncertainty for many of us. I assure you, though, that GC is committed to a process of continual improvement, which has been ongoing for 178 years, and we are – still – One Pride. Together, we will remain true to the values that are inscribed in our mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan – the same values that have nurtured and sustained this special place for 178 years.
Lawrence D. Czarda, Ph.D.
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