Teresa Sullivan needs to do MORE
President Teresa Sullivan and the Executive Vice President Tom Katsouleas of UVA recently released a statement to the University community about Donald Trump’s immigration ban that affects seven predominantly Muslim countries. In the email, the two administrators expressed concern for the Executive Order and reassured the University community that they had discussed the Order with those who would be immediately affected by it.
The Order, titled “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES,” prohibits all immigration from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan, including from those who have green cards, for 90 days. It also halts the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days while suspending the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely. A new cap on refugee admission was also placed at 50,000 for 2017.
According to the University’s census of international students, there are ninety-two undergraduate and graduate students from these seven countries.
President Sullivan’s response was much less impassioned than those of forty-eight other University Presidents who openly denounced the Order. This comes as no surprise, as Sullivan’s releases tend to not live up to the expectations of many community members when handling matters such as this, a recent example being her Post-Election Message in November. Sullivan quoted Thomas Jefferson in that message, in a move that exasperated students and faculty to the point that students and faculty wrote an open letter to her. Their letter decried “the messages of unity, equality, civility, and inclusivity” that they felt Sullivan’s email failed to propagate through the quotations of a man who they came to the University “in spite of.”
Mark Schlissel, the President of the University of Michigan, released a statement that was more direct in its support of immigrant rights compared to that from President Sullivan. In it, Schlissel brings up the role immigrants have played in the history of the University of Michigan, saying that the University’s “ability to attract the best students and faculty from around the globe enhances our teaching, learning, research and societal impact.” He goes on to list the non-discrimination policies of the University, including their support for the BRIDGE Act for undocumented students and gives information on how to support it as well.
Johns Hopkins’ President Ronald Daniels struck an even more direct tone when discussing the movement of refugees and immigrants. Daniels said “this executive order takes our country down the ominous path of erecting barriers not on the basis of a demonstrated security threat but on the basis of religion,” subliminally mentioning the issues with anti-Islamic and xenophobic rhetoric that the Trump administration has been accused of since day one. Daniels goes on to say that the executive order “erodes our core values and the founding principles of the nation,” finishing his statement with a call to action to protect the futures of those who are being attacked by the new administration.
Sullivan’s statement, though informative of UVA’s policies, did little to assuage the fears of affected students and faculty the way other statements did. This lack of an emotional response can be the difference between feeling safe at a University for many students. It should be, at the very least, reexamined before the next Executive Order from the Trump Administration targets valued members of our student body.
Sam Nicol is a second-year who dares to put all his eggs in one basket