Affirming Columbia’s commitment to our global community

September 29, 2017

With a new immigration executive order that imposes profound and indefinite restrictions on entry to the United States for citizens from six Muslim-majority nations as well as North Korea and Venezuela, it is important to reiterate Columbia’s fundamental commitment to welcoming students, faculty and staff from around the world. 

President Bollinger’s message to the Columbia community in response to the first in the Trump administration’s series of executive orders remains relevant: “We join with many peers in decrying this action as discriminatory, damaging to America’s leadership in higher education, and contrary to our nation’s core values and founding principles.”  

The president of the Association of American Universities, to which Columbia belongs, has also expressed concern that “the administration’s actions create uncertainty for those pursuing higher education opportunities in our country, threatening our county’s economic competitiveness and global leadership status.” 

The new executive order, like its predecessors, negatively impacts our community in many ways. It restricts students, faculty and staff in the exchange of ideas across borders, which is central to Columbia’s education and research missions. And it reinforces stereotypes that are both dangerous and harmful to community members and our surrounding society.

In particular, Columbia community members who are Muslim, and those who are perceived as Muslim, navigate an environment where public statements about these orders frequently associate Islam with violence rather than with positive contributions to the American and global fabric of religious pluralism.   

Columbia continues to participate in efforts to oppose these restrictions. Earlier this year, we filed a friend-of-the-court brief with 16 other universities in a challenge to a previous version of the order. The brief argued that “safety and security concerns can be addressed in a manner that is consistent with the values America has always stood for, including the free flow of ideas and people across borders and the welcoming of immigrants to our universities.” Now that new lawsuits are being prepared and arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court are temporarily on hold, we will continue to pursue opportunities to join with our colleagues in objecting to these restrictions that are, as President Bollinger has said, at odds with our basic mission.  

On our campuses, we encourage students and others to reach out to Public Safety or to advisers or student affairs staff within your school if you have concerns about harassment or discrimination.

And, the Office of University Life and International Students and Scholars Office are available to assist and support you. Please consider the following options:

For more information on the restrictions and assistance for affected community members, please see the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).

In addition, counseling services are available for all affected students. Morningside students can contact Dr. Carolina Franco, [email protected](212) 854-2878; CUMC students contact Dr. Claire Haiman, [email protected](212) 305-3400.

Not sure where to turn? Contact us at the Office of University Life; [email protected](212) 854-7658

With a continuing commitment to all in our University community,

Suzanne B. Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life
Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law