February 8, 2017

Response to the Executive Order on Immigration

Provost Abu Turab Rizvi sent the following message to the campus community on Feb. 8, 2017.

Members of the Lafayette Community,

As a result of the January 27 executive order announcing travel restrictions, some members of our community face uncertainty about being able to travel to see family members and have religious or national identities that are being seen as dangerous. I write to outline steps the College will take to assist students who are affected by this order.

President Byerly mentioned in her recent message that I met last week with Muslim and other students affected by the order. After hearing concerns firsthand, I offered the college’s assistance regarding housing, expenses, legal advice, individual consultation, and relevant academic programming. I emphasized that since we face a changing situation our responses will need to adapt to circumstances. Last Wednesday, Lafayette College Student Government issued a resolution that called on the administration to take particular steps, and their suggestions are also addressed below.

Public Safety. The College’s Public Safety office is charged not to ask students about students’ visa or immigration status or to act on the basis of that knowledge. Most information about students, with the exception of “directory information” as defined in the Student Handbook, is protected and is not released outside the College except under limited and rare cases involving lawfully issued subpoenas.

Housing. Students who are unable to travel because of the executive order will be eligible for housing at no cost. The housing may be in residence halls or, with mutual agreement, with members of our community offering to host students in their homes.

Legal advice. We have arranged for a pro bono immigration attorney to speak to students affected by the executive order to answer general questions.  Based on those discussions, the law firm will evaluate whether representation is needed, and whether the individuals qualify for further pro bono assistance. Students should contact Leslie Muhlfelder, who is Vice President of Human Resources and General Counsel. In addition, we are arranging for an immigration expert to come to campus to address more generally a variety of issues related to the current circumstances.

Unexpected expenses. We ask students who anticipate that the executive order will lead to unexpected expenses to bring those up with Rev. Alex Hendrickson, who is College Chaplain and Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and Interim Dean of Equity and Inclusion.

Volunteers. Many of you have asked how you might offer housing, donations, or help. We do not know yet exactly what kinds of support might be needed but are, however, gathering a list of interested volunteers. Please indicate your interest by filling out this brief survey (https://lafayettec.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5mOeRsMk0VOArtP ). Rev. Hendrickson will be in touch as more information is known about the effect these new rules will have on members of our community.

Information and clearer understanding. As mentioned above, we are arranging for the visit of an expert on issues related to the executive order in the upcoming weeks to help us understand the situation and answer questions. In addition, a variety of faculty and staff colleagues are planning events that will help support students and advance our understanding.

We would be happy to consider your suggestions and thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

Abu Turab Rizvi, Provost