Dear members of the Oregon State University community,
I am angry and disappointed over the Presidential Executive Orders issued last week regarding US immigration policy changes and the ability to travel abroad. These orders lack detail, are being unevenly implemented, and have created anxiety, uncertainty and hardship among thoroughly vetted refugees, immigrants, those with green cards, and their families and friends.
Questions remain regarding the future treatment of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students and other undocumented students and families and the extent to which future federal policy changes will affect funding to public research institutions, like Oregon State University.
I am deeply saddened for everyone caught up in these circumstances and my heart goes out to those affected. At this time, each of us must reaffirm our compassion and commitment to one another as a community regardless of immigration status, background or identity and declare our enduring commitment to free and open inquiry, which are fundamental to our democracy.
Since 1868, Oregon State University has existed to provide educational opportunities and improve the lives of all people through our teaching, research, and outreach and engagement.
Going forward, our pledge of service to others will never change. This university will remain unwavering in its commitment to inclusive excellence, social justice, diversity of all kinds and the safety of all people. These commitments are the foundation upon which we build excellence in everything we do. As your university’s president, I assure you that Oregon State University is fully committed to support students’ pursuit of their education and faculty’s work in teaching and research.
University leaders – along with partners such as the Association of Public Land Grant Universities and others – are actively monitoring executive orders and federal announcements and seeking to interpret their implications.
We will share what we learn with the university community on an ongoing basis as quickly as possible, such as in recent communications to research and academic faculty and to international students and visiting faculty. We know, for example, that there are many students, faculty, and staff at the university from the seven countries named in the Presidential Executive Order on travel. Each of these students and employees is a valued member of our university community. To our knowledge, none of these individuals is presently engaged in international travel and we deeply regret the fear and anxiety they are experiencing.
I also am writing to assure you that OSU will remain a sanctuary university for its students.
OSU’s Sanctuary University status is not subject to recent presidential executive orders since the university complies with all federal laws. The United States Constitution provides for states' rights that effectively allow state entities such as OSU to decline to participate in an enforcement role in carrying out deportation actions. As a sanctuary university, OSU does not hinder or prevent the federal government’s deportation activities, but OSU has chosen not to participate in those actions nor will it provide information to the federal government to aid in those actions, unless required in specific instances by court order or an emergency health or safety situation. As well, the OSU Department of Public Safety will not voluntarily seek, collect or provide immigration status information to federal immigration enforcement officials.
OSU will remain in compliance with other federal laws associated with the business of the university, such as requirements related to international student visas, employee hiring, and student applications for federal financial aid.
Going forward, the university will continue to issue public statements on our policies, and the university – along with national educational associations – will advocate at the federal level for OSU’s interests on immigration policy and civil rights. This will include our steadfast support of the BRIDGE Act – Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream of Growing Our Economy Act – a bipartisan Congressional bill that makes the DACA program a federal law.
We also will advocate at the federal level for transparency, timely access to information on administration policy actions, including immigration, civil rights, and research; and clarification on federal law and policy developments.
In the next few weeks, the university will announce and hold community education and information sessions on topics, such as:
Know Your Rights – An educational session to inform community members on their civil liberties in the immigration arena and provide knowledge and resources regarding immigration issues.
Understanding Executive Orders – A session on how Presidential Executive Orders work and interact with federal and state law.
Immigration Basics, Updates and Planning – A session on topics including international travel, documentation, visa renewals and other areas affected by current and potential policy changes.
Advising on DACA and More – A session on understanding and navigating current and potential federal policy changes affecting DACA recipients, undocumented students, and students with undocumented family members.
As you may know, as a university, OSU’s attorneys represent OSU and cannot provide legal advice to OSU students. However, free legal services are available to students through ASOSU legal services.
If you are in need of personal assistance, and are a Corvallis student, please visit the offices of Diversity and Cultural Engagement, Institutional Diversity or the Division of International Programs. The Student Affairs Student Resources website also provides detailed information about support services. OSU-Cascades, students should visit their campus’ student resources website for assistance.
Employees needing assistance may utilize the OSU Employee Assistance Program by confidentially calling 1-800-433-2320 at any time, or by calling the Human Resources Department at 541-737-3103.
In the coming days and weeks, we will provide updates through communications such as this and by updating the OSU Sanctuary University FAQ web page found on the website for the Office of Institutional Diversity. This website will include expanded links to other community resources, as well as updates.
As we go forward, we must remain strong and supportive of each other and our community. We remain guided by the values upon which this university was founded and under which we still operate today.
Edward J. Ray