To Members of the University Community,
As we begin the spring semester in 2017 we must acknowledge that our community faces widespread uncertainty. Like many familiar issues that we face in the 21st century, the new uncertainties are global in scale, involving politics, economics, the environment, the nature and future of American society, and America’s role in the world. The uncertainties that many members of our community face are also intensely personal: “Will my fundamental rights be taken or compromised?”; “Will I be allowed to stay?”; “Will I be targeted or persecuted because of my color, religion, or identity?”
The present uncertainties have been exacerbated by the recent Executive Order issued by President Donald J. Trump. The University of Rhode Island is carefully reviewing the implications on our community of President Trump’s Executive Order relating to visa issuance, screening procedures, and refugees. We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation. In the meantime we want to reassure our students, faculty and staff that the University of Rhode Island is focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our community members no matter their country of origin.
The University is one of more than 600 higher education institutions that have signed a letter supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In addition, the University strongly supports the statement of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities regarding this executive order.
The timing of this Executive Order is haunting. Much of the world just observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day. America should never forget that our nation turned away thousands of Jews seeking to escape Nazi Germany. American opposition to immigration at that time was rooted in prejudice, isolationism, and fear. Let us strive together not to repeat those mistakes.
We are a diverse community, a diverse state, a diverse nation. What some will see and experience as threatening, others may consider as a welcome, and perhaps overdue, change of direction. At the University of Rhode Island, we are committed to freedom of expression for the members of our university as we continue to seek to understand each other, value one another, respect one another, care for one another, and, if necessary, defend one another.
The time for defending members of our community may be at hand, and the University is prepared to do that. Certainly we will work with the law, and within the law, but we will always strive to live up to the great values of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, equal protection, and equal rights that are enshrined within our Constitution.
In 2017 the University of Rhode Island is much larger, much better, more influential, more diverse, and more successful than anyone may have envisioned in 1892, when URI was founded. It is a university truly worth celebrating, not for its facilities, or its traditions, but for its people. It is the diverse students, staff, and the faculty that have made, and will continue to make, the University of Rhode Island a truly special place that is a force for good in America and the world, no matter how uncertain or challenging our circumstances may be at any given moment.
David M. Dooley, Ph.D.
If you have questions regarding international education and travel please contact the Office of International Education at (401) 874-2018 or visit http://www.uri.edu/international.