Immigration Executive Order sparks campus response
Chancellor Carol L. Folt, administrators and members of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum responded swiftly to the immigration Executive Order on Jan. 27. The Executive Order limits immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, among other actions.
In a campus email sent out Jan. 29, Folt reaffirmed the University’s commitment to help people who are directly or indirectly impacted in every way possible.
She advised those who may be affected by this order to consult an immigration attorney before any travel outside of the United States and to contact UNC Global – International Student and Scholar Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-962-5661.
“To our more than 3,000 international students, scholars, staff and families – representing more than 100 countries: you are essential to our vibrant Carolina community,” Folt’s letter read, in part. “We remain fully committed to a diverse and inclusive campus and want all who work and study here to feel welcomed and valued.”
Some Carolina faculty called for a stronger statement, citing those from Duke and Michigan, who initially declared that they would not share confidential student records with law-enforcement agencies – local, state, or federal – without a subpoena.
In a statement on Feb. 2, Joel Curran, vice chancellor of university communications, reiterated what Folt had said about protecting international students. “Carolina is already doing what every other university is claiming to do in terms of protection of records, documents and identities. And as they have stated in several public forums, our campus police do not ask for citizenship status or gather immigration information,” he said.
Elizabeth Barnum, director of international student and scholar services, notes that all universities, including Carolina, are required under immigration regulations to submit information through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a federal government database for tracking international students and scholars in the United States. This has been required since 2002.
The University is a signatory to a letter from the American Council on Education and has also supported a letter from the Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman, both expressing concerns about the immigration ban.
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) contacted all non-immigrant international students and scholars directly affected by this Executive Order to offer support. They hosted meetings for them as a group as well as a Feb. 6 Town Hall meeting for all international students and scholars concerned about the impact of the Executive Order. ISSS is also continually updating a resource web page (isss.unc.edu/executiveorders/) for international students and scholars.
“Now, more than ever, we must reflect on why we are committed to international exchange – to foster cross-cultural understanding, to strengthen scholarship and academics, and to build bridges across differences,” wrote Ron Strauss, executive vice provost and chief international officer, and Barnum, in an open letter posted Feb. 3.
On Jan. 30, the Faculty Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution in support of their international colleagues. The University “stands for intellectual curiosity, discovery and artistic expression. These pursuits know no borders,” the resolution reads, in part. “To target individuals because of their nationality, religion or any other characteristic runs counter to all that we value and hold dear at Carolina. We stand together as an intellectual community.”
At its Feb. 1 meeting, the Employee Forum voted in favor of a “statement of support” for the faculty resolution and the faculty, and included an offer of support for “embracing everyone and lifting us all up as a group.”