TO: Faculty, Students, and Staff
Division of the Social Sciences
FROM: David Nirenberg, Dean
Amanda Woodward, Deputy Dean
Patrick Hall, Dean of Students
DATE: February 8, 2017
RE: University’s Response to Executive Orders Affecting Immigration
Many of you in the Division may know students, faculty, or visitors who have been affected by the Executive Order restricting visas and immigration, so we write to give you a sense of what we at the University are doing to support our colleagues. In light of the evolving status of the Executive Order restricting visas and immigration, the University's response has had to be both proactive and comprehensive. It has ranged from the principled, such as the President's and Provost’s efforts at constructive critique at the national political level, to the practical, such as their provision of logistical support and of legal counsel to members of our community who have found their travel interrupted.
These efforts and actions are in support of our students and colleagues, but they are not only that. They are also a defense of the conditions of our existence. Since their establishment in the Middle Ages universities have always depended on the movement of scholars, without which our basic mission of developing, transmitting, and testing ideas by their free generation and exchange can scarcely thrive.
We will all—staff, faculty, students, and university leadership—continue to work on many different levels to defend these freedoms necessary for our study, research, and teaching.
Let us conclude by simply reminding you of some of the more immediate details of those efforts, and of some resources available to you. As the February 7th message from the Provost’s Office details (included below for your reference), the Office of International Affairs is closely monitoring developments and is engaged in advising faculty, students, and staff on the best ways to navigate this highly fluid situation. The Office's website is the source of up-to-date information, including details on available resources such as access to legal experts regarding visa and travel issues.
The next information session on the status of the order is this evening, February 8th, at 6:00 PM at the Cloister Club in Ida Noyes Hall (1212 East 59th Street). The University has retained immigration attorneys from Dempster, Corcoran, Quicken & Lenz-Calvo, and they will present information and answer questions.
In addition to the Office of International Affairs, we encourage you to reach out to the Division resources including the Dean’s Office and our Dean of Students Office with questions. As an institution, we are committed to the free and open exchange of ideas, and we are working to help those who need assistance in addressing these difficult and complex issues.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Sian Beilock and Michele Rasmussen
Subject: Update on Support for the UChicago International Community
Date: February 7, 2017 at 9:36:19 AM CST
To: Members of the University Community
We are writing to provide additional information and an update on actions the University of Chicago has been taking in support of our community members who may be affected by recent developments on immigration, including the January 27, 2017 Executive Order on immigration. Many people across the University community have offered input on these issues, and we are grateful for their shared concern for their colleagues and classmates. The University of Chicago has been unwavering in support of international and undocumented members of the campus community, and in our position that the United States should continue to welcome immigrants irrespective of their country of origin. The January 27 Executive Order on immigration (which as of this writing has been stayed by a federal court) is inconsistent with this commitment. Below we underscore the actions taken to uphold the University’s commitment to excellence based on the strength of each individual’s ideas, regardless of status, identity or perspective.
- The University has publicly and continuously asserted it commitment to admitting outstanding students regardless of citizenship. As Provost Diermeier wrote in a message to the campus community on November 18, 2016, “[a]ll students who apply to the University, regardless of citizenship and including undocumented students, are considered for admission and the financial aid for which they qualify.”
- The University is committed to protecting the privacy of student educational records with the means available by law. As outlined in the FAQs posted on January 4, 2017, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the University will not release information from a student’s education record, including immigration status and other identifying information, without the student’s written consent, except as required by law.
- The enforcement of federal immigration laws is not part of the mission of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD). Accordingly, UCPD does not engage in immigration enforcement work and it does not release information on immigration status to local, state or federal law enforcement agencies, except as required by law. More information regarding the role of UCPD in this context can be found in the FAQs posted on January 4, 2017.
- We are committed to working with individual students and scholars from the countries referenced in the Executive Order and assisting them as they encounter problems and issues brought about by the order. Because individual situations are distinct, the nature of this support may vary, and can include both legal advice and financial assistance. The University will continue to hold information sessions for international students and scholars, provide travel advice and deploy resources to assist those who are detained or otherwise prevented from returning to the U.S. from abroad.
- We are committed to providing support for all students to succeed at the University. A national search is well underway for a new Executive Director of the Center for Identity + Inclusion, which includes the Student Support Services office. In the interim, staff in CI+I, the Provost's Office, CSL, the Office of Legal Counsel, and the College are working to ensure that the needs of undocumented, DACA, first generation, veterans and low-income students are being met.
- Likewise, we believe it is vital that our students and graduates with F-1 visa status continue to benefit from the federal government’s Optional Practical Training program (OPT), which provides individuals with employment authorization for periods ranging from 12 to 36 months. This is a highly valuable program for the University, our students and graduates, and U.S. employers, and a curtailment of the program would result in a significant loss of talent for the U.S.
- The Office of International Affairs (OIA) has created a website to post updates regarding the presidential executive orders affecting immigration, provide guidance to members of the University’s international community and post links to other relevant information such as upcoming events and prior University messages. This office has been engaged with affected faculty, students and staff to develop plans for them to continue with their employment and degrees and we welcome individuals to contact OIA if they have questions, concerns or difficulties.