A statement from President Stephen C. Ainlay

Publication Date

On Friday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven majority Muslim nations from entry and in some cases re-entry into the United States. This action has undoubtedly had an impact on some of our students, faculty and staff, and has caused anxiety and distress for many more.

More than 200 years ago, Union was founded as one of the country’s first non-sectarian colleges, with the belief that diversity made for a better educational experience. Two centuries later, we are more committed than ever to that belief. Union College remains a welcoming educational environment where students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds and faiths thrive. Indeed, all are valued members of this community and our two most recent strategic plans have confirmed this institutional commitment. We also recognize that we are part of a larger international community of scholars, and are understandably concerned about any policies that make the exchange of ideas within and across that community more difficult.

We will do all that we can within the law to support and protect the members of our community affected by these actions. This is an evolving situation. Several injunctions have been granted that impact the execution of the executive order in varying ways. We will continue to monitor the situation and seek the guidance of experts. We are also communicating with colleagues at other institutions to see what we can learn. I have asked Gretchel Hathaway, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, to coordinate our relevant administrative offices and help those community members who need our assistance. Anyone with questions and concerns can contact her office.

While the full implications of the executive order and the subsequent injunctions remain to be determined, members of our community who plan to travel outside the United States could be affected. Several other prominent institutions have urged faculty, staff and students who might be affected by the executive order to defer leaving the country until there is a better understanding of the status of the policy. This advice seems prudent.

I also understand that many members of our community who are not directly affected will want to find the best way they can help those that are, and have their concerns heard more broadly. We are a community of scholars and as such, we encourage the free and respectful exchange of ideas. This situation is no different. We must talk to each other, learn from each other, and support each other. I have every confidence that we will do exactly that.