After President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely and citizens from seven Muslim-majority populations for 90 days, members of the Westminster College community released statements responding decrying his actions as oppositional to the college’s core values and mission statement.
Read the unedited statements from President Steve Morgan, ASW President Ben Pok, Faculty Chair Han Kim and Westminster’s Hillel for Utah club here:
Statement from president Steve Morgan
Dear members of the Westminster Community,
Last semester, I shared with faculty, staff, students, and alums that Westminster is a safe haven for all; that respect for diverse people and perspectives and having personal and social responsibility are part of our core values and essential in safeguarding those who are most vulnerable in the current national climate. More than ever, this remains a commitment for me, as well as the senior team and other campus leaders.
Like many of you, we are following the most recent actions and news reports regarding the executive order on immigration signed this past weekend. These policies do not align with our commitment to creating a more inclusive Westminster, and I am extremely concerned about how they might impact members of our campus community. With the growing dialogue, legal discussions, and emerging cases, there remains much uncertainty and many questions among the higher education community. The senior team and I are carefully monitoring what is happening and will be working with the Westminster Office of Global Engagement and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion to determine how to best respond to any upcoming changes and support those impacted on our campus.
I want to remind everyone of my earlier commitment: Westminster will do all that we can to protect our community members from intimidation and unfair investigation.
We have already committed to do the following:
- We will not share private information about our students, faculty, or staff to anyone, unless authorized by the student or required by court order or subpoena.
- We will not voluntarily assist in any efforts by the federal government to deport our students, faculty, or staff solely because of their citizenship status, unless required by court order or subpoena.
- We will continue to admit students consistent with our nondiscrimination policies so that undocumented students will be considered for admission under the same criteria as U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
- We will stay abreast of potential policy changes or legislative efforts and actively share such information and guidance as it becomes available.
- We will encourage alums and campus friends who share our commitment to make their expertise in counseling services or immigration law available to Westminster students, donating time to provide pro-bono services. We are providing this opportunity through our new website: westminstercollege.edu/undocumented and through personal outreach.
- We will strengthen our campus ties to community partners that can assist in accessing resources for undocumented students in our community.
- We will not tolerate hate crimes and are committed to fully investigate any such reported conduct.
- We will encourage the sharing of knowledge and dialogue that embraces the diverse experiences of our community members and find opportunities to facilitate conversations. In partnership with the Associated Students of Westminster, we are holding a forum for students today, Monday, January 30 at 5 PM in Malouf 201.
I remain part of the “Statement of Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students” that was started by the president of Pomona College. Last month, I joined other college presidents and leaders across business, civic, religious, and non-profit sectors urging our country’s leaders to uphold DACA. I have also sent copies of the statement to our state senators and representatives, reminding them that Westminster will not back down from the fight for human rights.
In addition to the resource page on our website, we have established the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion as points of contact for those seeking undocumented student resources.
For questions regarding international student services, non-immigrant or other immigrant status, and study abroad, please contact the Office of Global Engagement at 801.832.2829 or visit their office in Walker Hall One. We ask that faculty, staff, and students be extra diligent in informing us of study abroad plans so that we can best support their well-being.
We will keep the campus community updated as we learn more about how future executive actions impact higher education and Westminster, and will continue to look for ways to support all undocumented, international, and refugee members of our community.
Statement from ASW President Ben Pok
Statements made by President Morgan, and Faculty Chair Dr. Han Kim regarding their condemnation of President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration reaffirmed the trust that I have invested in our college community to stand up for our core values, both as a college, and a country that respects Diversity.
Any federal or state policy that poses a threat to our students’ ability to receive a Westminster education without fear and intimidation is a threat to the very identity of our institution, and must be challenged. We can no longer be apologetic in our fight for social justice, equality, equity and inclusivity.
Every time I, both as a member of this community and as President, will be tested to defend the rights of my peers, I will choose to do so without hesitation. Today, I pledge to uphold the promises the Associated Students of Westminster made last semester:
“As student representatives, we take seriously our commitment to “serve as a student forum for concerns of the student body.” We do not believe in building walls. We will not be complicit in the persecution of and bigotry against those without documentation, Muslims, Jews, members of the LGBTQIAP+ community, people with disabilities, Indigenous and Native peoples, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Mexicans, Latinx, immigrants, womyn, sexual assault survivors, and persons who are incarcerated. We will not be complicit in Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or attacks against other marginalized and vulnerable groups. We commit to making sure our college honors this aspiration and the voices and lives of the diversity of people who make our community great. We call on all those in our community to fight intolerance and hatred in any form.” –12/6/16
I added my name to a letter entitled “Student Leaders’ Letter to President Trump,” that my student body president counterparts across the country have issued, urging the President to “uphold and continue DACA, H-1B visas, and visas for international students generally– including for Muslim students,” as well as to inform the President’s administration that “we are prepared to meet with [them] to make our case.”
I recognize that there is much more to be done in addition to the progress the college has made. I pledge to work with, and protect the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community
members who may be affected by the Executive Order, and to carry out my duties as President in a way that does not overlook or mistreat those who are marginalized. I pledge to work tireles
sly to support and contribute resources to efforts dedicated to protecting our community members, to constantly follow up with administration officials, and to report any progress or updates to the student body. I also pledge to open my office doors to any student who wishes to have conversations regarding this issue, and to amplify their concerns to appropriate parties.
I would like to thank Dr. Kim, President Morgan and all those involved for voicing their concerns, and for re-committing themselves to fighting to create a truly inclusive space. I urge all campus leaders, regardless of the position or status they hold at Westminster–be they a student, faculty, staff, alumni, or trustee–to use their offices and powers to vocally join us in this fight.
As always, it is an honor to serve all the students here at Westminster. In solidarity,
Student Body President
Statement from Westminster faculty chair Han Kim
Dear Westminster College Community,
As the Chair of the Faculty of Westminster College, I want to reaffirm President Morgan’s message in regards to the Executive Order on Immigration issued this week by the President of the United States. I believe that this Executive Order, as well as other threats to our immigrant populations, are antithetical to the mission of the academy and to the mission of Westminster College. We cannot be a “community of learners” that promotes “inclusiveness and respect for differences” if students and colleagues are fearful for their legal status in the country. Furthermore, this diminishes us as a country that celebrates freedom and opportunity for all. We must stand together as a community to affirm our principles and values, and voice our deep concerns.
Therefore, I, as the Faculty Chair, pledge to work with our faculty to stand by our students and colleagues who may be affected by this Executive Order and protect them to the best of our abilities, to uphold and sustain the principles established when President Morgan declared our campus a Safe Haven, and to do everything in our power to create an inclusive and and safe environment for all of our students and colleagues, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic (class) status, (dis)ability, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, religion, age, language, and documentation and immigration status. I will work with the faculty to become unconditional allies to our most vulnerable students.
I am very confident the Westminster College community’s potential to come together and become a true “community of learners” where ALL members feel included and heard. I hope you can all join me in putting in the tireless work needed to do this.
Associate Professor, Public Health
Letter to President Morgan from Hillel for Utah
Dear President Morgan:
On behalf of Hillel for Utah and Hillel International, the largest Jewish student organization in the world, we urge you to take every possible measure available to the university to protect students at Westminster College from the consequences of the Executive Order issued on Friday, January 27, 2017 regarding refugees and visa- and green card holders from certain countries in the Middle East.
Jewish history and scripture teach us unequivocally to care for the “strangers” in our midst. Upon leaving Egypt, the ancient Israelites are told “you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9) On 36 different occasions, our Torah commands us to remember the experience of being foreigners, strangers, and victims of oppression, and our people has been imbued with that spirit ever since.
Throughout our history, Jews have been minorities within the many cultures we have lived, and have often been the subject of restrictions on where we could live and study. We know if this order were aimed at Jewish students we would ask you and all our fellow students to stand with us. As such, we unequivocally stand with all students who find that this order will affect themselves or their families. And we stand in solidarity with the university community in upholding the values of freedoms of speech, press, and assembly that are core both to American life and the life of the academy.
We are ready to do whatever we can as a campus organization, especially one affiliated with a global movement, to assist you in your efforts to make our university a place of learning, growth, and opportunity for all.
Alexandra Frol, Hillel for Utah Student President
Dana Tumpowsky, Hillel for Utah Director
Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International