In a letter delivered to President Hanbury’s office on Feb. 3, around 50 faculty members asked that the president release a stronger statement on the immigration executive order than the one issued on Jan. 30.
The faculty, in their letter, encouraged Hanbury to emphasize in a new statement that NSU will not share sensitive information about students – including immigration status –, that campus police will not partner with outside law enforcement unless mandated by law and that NSU will support all of its students regardless of their immigration status, among other requests.
The letter concludes with the statement, “We hope you realize that to do less is to compromise and sacrifice our moral leadership and leave our students, our faculty, our staff, and our community without an anchor.”
Hanbury has not yet responded to the letter, although he has read it and said that he plans to respond.
Regarding the letter’s request, Hanbury said that because of the quickly-changing nature of the legal battle surrounding the order, it’s difficult for him to clarify anything other than what he has already said.
“Until there’s clarification one way or another, it’s difficult for me to take any kind of a stand as president of a university,” he said. “As president of the university, I have to uphold the law and the constitution of the state and the nation. But there is no law right now on this, because the judiciary has temporarily restrained the executive from making the decision.”
Gary Gershman, professor in the department of history and political science, wrote the initial draft of the letter and signed the final draft. He explained that he felt Hanbury’s statement was too ambiguous and that the statement did not soothe the fears of students and faculty.
“We as the faculty…felt that the statement from the statement wasn’t strong enough, that it wasn’t reassuring enough to faculty or especially students,” he explained. “Many students expressed that concern to many of us. We also felt that it was important that the president take a stronger stand in light of what other universities were doing.”
According to Gershman, the letter was patterned after statements on the immigration ban from other universities like Harvard and the University of Michigan.
“I think, as a university, we talk the talk about diversity, but we often don’t walk the walk, and this is an opportunity to walk the walk,” Gershman said. “This is an opportunity to stand up and say, ‘We are going to defend these concepts and defend these ideals, and to do anything else is un-American.’”
Hanbury said that the faculty who signed the letter feel like he needs to re-emphasize principles that the university already follows.
“We don’t go around and inquire about students… We don’t go around asking for passports, and we don’t block anybody’s access,” he said. “I’m not going to start re-emphasizing something that we’re already doing.”
Hanbury said that he thinks students are aware that the university has these policies.
“I think all students know that we haven’t stopped any student,” he said. “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me, while this is still in flux as it is, to do anything other than what I’ve said.”
Hanbury said that he intends to keep students and faculty informed as the situation changes and that he doesn’t know how he can do more than what he’s doing currently.
Yara Khalifa, junior biology major, said that she had read statements on the immigration executive order from other schools and that she thought NSU’s statement wasn’t strong enough.
“There should have been more done and more administrative involvement,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything since [the statement]. Other schools have followed up with their students repeatedly and had many events, and I feel like NSU is very slow to respond to these things.”
Khalifa, who also read the faculty letter, said she agreed with the faculty who signed it that the university should have taken a clear stand against the executive order.
“[NSU’s statement] doesn’t really mention the problem that we’re dealing with, which is an executive order that is very unfair,” she said.
Nelson Bass, a professor in the department of history and political science who signed the letter, said that some students he’s talked to have felt isolated and scared.
“I thought it would be a good thing if we made a more forceful statement about our responsibility to keeping our students safe, protecting them and letting them know that we care about them,” he said.
Bass said that because the NSU campus is so diverse, the effects of the executive order were probably felt more strongly at NSU than at other schools.
“The most important thing for faculty in signing [the letter] was showing our students that the faculty care,” Bass said. “I think that was why there were so many faculty who were eager to sign, because they felt like it was important that their students realize that no matter what happens outside the university, that the faculty…will do everything they can to protect them.”
Gershman said that moral leadership is difficult, and that to lead you sometimes have to take a real stand.
“We all felt that we and the students needed better reassurance that the university is going to protect people,” he said.
Full text of faculty letter to President Hanbury
Dear President Hanbury,
As faculty members, we appreciate you stepping up and making a statement about the current situation resulting from the executive order that severely impacted members of our community. We know you are attempting to reassure our student body, and greatly appreciate that effort.
However, it is fairly evident from the actions of this past weekend that this is about far more than just the seven countries listed in the Executive Order.
We hope that you can follow your initial statement with another that acknowledges that our Muslim students especially are protected by this university. As a University that is concerned with diversity, integrity and prides itself on being student centered we acknowledge the unfair stigma this has placed upon members of our community and we will do all we can to combat that stigma.
We hope you will emphasize that we support all of our students without regard to their immigration status.
We hope you will let students know that the University will not share sensitive information, like immigration status.
We hope you will emphasize to students that campus police will not inquire about their immigration status, unless mandated by law.
We hope you will assure our students that campus police will not partner with federal, state or local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law except when required to do so, and never in contradiction of a federal court order.
We hope you will remind our students that Nova Southeastern University is a place of safety for them.
We hope you will speak out against the fact that this executive order was issued on the very day we are reminded of the consequence of these types of actions, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A day that has been besmirched by the actions and words of the White House.
We hope you reinforce your words that we, as other universities like the University of Michigan noted in their statement, “take a clear and unambiguous stand against this executive order. The Trump administration is trying to create a culture of legal prejudice against Muslims. It is time for the academic world to join the resistance.”
We hope you realize that to do less is to compromise and sacrifice our moral leadership and leave our students, our faculty, our staff, and our community without an anchor.
Full Text of Hanbury’s statement on the immigration ban
TO: NSU Students, Faculty and Staff
DATE: Monday, Jan. 30, 2017
SUBJECT: NSU’s Statement on Immigration Executive Order
The Executive Order signed by President Trump last Friday suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen has caused confusion and raised questions from our international students, faculty, and staff. We want the entire NSU community to know that we are working to clarify and understand how this presidential order affects the nation’s immigration policy and how it impacts nationals from these countries, or individuals with plans to travel to or from these countries who are affiliated in any fashion with NSU.
Until we have better understanding of the exact impact of the immigration policy, at this time we are advising that members of the NSU community that are from the affected countries refrain from traveling outside of the United States until more specific information becomes available. NSU is working diligently to better understand the scope and impact of the immigration policy, and will be providing further resources and updates to the NSU community. Updates can be found at http://www.nova.edu/internationalaffairs/index.html.
Diversity is one of NSU’s core values, with its multicultural community having representation from more than 116 countries across the world. NSU remains grounded in the importance of inclusion and respect for all cultural traditions, religions and spiritual beliefs, and NSU continues to support and welcome all international students, faculty and researchers to its campus. Diversity is critical to the enrichment of a learning environment that prepares students to live and work in a global society, and NSU is dedicated to ensuring the security and success of all international members of the NSU community.
NSU remains committed to providing a safe and welcoming campus for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors and I will keep you informed as this matter progresses. Here are a few resources available to our community for further knowledge and or assistance:
- Henderson Student Counseling: http://www.nova.edu/healthcare/student-services/student-counseling.html.
- NSU Office of International Affairs, Dr. DeNapoli: (954) 262-7240, or http://www.nova.edu/internationalaffairs
- You can learn more about “What You Need to Know About Colleges and the Immigration Ban” through a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education here: http://www.chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/239038