The faculty of UMass Dartmouth were shocked and concerned when we heard about the detention of our colleagues as they arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport on January 29, 2017, returning from a professional engineering conference overseas.
UMass Dartmouth is committed to establishing a diverse learning environment that is open to all people. We welcome anyone into our community and strongly reject discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, veteran status, disability, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation. Our dedication to nondiscrimination comes from a belief in the inherent value and dignity of people. Our commitment to diversity reflects the importance of ideas in our academic community. What is important is what people have to say— what they contribute intellectually to the process of teaching and learning on our campus. We believe that our identities shape our ideas, and a vibrant academic community overflows with a wide variety of ideas and viewpoints.
By discriminating against those Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Somalians, Sudanese, Syrians, and Yemenis who might wish to study or teach at UMass Dartmouth—or other institutions of higher education in the United States—the Executive Order signed by President Trump on January 27, 2017 dampens the vibrancy of the intellectual environment here. As UMass President Marty Meehan put it in his statement on January 29, 2017, our international students and faculty “enrich our campuses and communities by providing a fullness of perspectives that helps fulfill our mission of research and public service benefitting the Commonwealth.”
Higher education in the United States has been so successful at generating the greatest innovators, the most dynamic thinkers, and the most important agents of positive change in large part because it has drawn from a global pool of talent, attracting the smartest, most creative, and hardest working scholars and students from across the world. Our faculty, like those at many US universities, is richly diverse and filled with individuals from many countries outside the US. The same is true of our student body. We believe the Executive Order will have a distinctly negative effect on our ability to attract the best to our campus and undermines the goals of higher education.
We agree with UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Randy Helm and Provost Mohammed Karim’s January 29, 2017 message to the UMass Dartmouth community that “the executive order does nothing to make our country safer and represents a shameful ignorance of and indifference to the values that have traditionally made America a beacon of liberty and hope.”