To our Washington University community:
On university campuses across the country, concerns have been raised about the potential for changes in federal immigration law and policy that could impact the treatment of undocumented students. Though no formal proposals have been announced, we know this uncertainty is generating heightened anxiety for many in our community.
On behalf of the university, I have joined other presidents and chancellors in urging federal elected and government officials to preserve — and even expand — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through DACA, more than 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have registered with the federal government in exchange for temporary relief from the possibility of deportation. In our letter, we stated that DACA is a moral imperative and national necessity that benefits not only the students in the program, but the country as a whole. We are monitoring this situation and will be a strong advocate for the continuation of DACA, should any proposals or changes to existing policy move forward.
In the meantime, I wanted to take this opportunity to reinforce with you all that we have no higher priority than the safety, well-being and academic success of all of our students, faculty and staff — regardless of immigration status, race, ethnicity, nationality or any other identity. On this point we will not compromise. Our university policies are clear: discrimination, harassment or assault will not be tolerated on our campuses.
Our university must be a place where we draw strength through our differences, and where all feel welcomed, respected and included. As a community, we must vigorously encourage the open exchange of ideas and perspectives. These are our core values. We all must embrace them.
It also is important for you to know that the Washington University Police Department (WUPD) works in partnership with our community to maintain a safe learning environment. Officers in the department are visible, accessible and dedicated to their primary goal: making sure that every member of our community and our visitors feel safe on and around our campuses. WUPD is not in the business of enforcing federal immigration law, nor do WUPD officers inquire about immigration status as a matter of course in carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities. That will not change.
I will close with two personal appeals:
First, if you are struggling — in any way — please take care of yourself and get the support you need. The university provides resources for students, faculty and staff, and we in the administration are available to offer assistance, as well.
Second, if you are motivated to do so, I encourage you to engage in the national conversation about the future of our immigration policies. Every one of you has an important perspective to share and is empowered to make a difference. This is one collection of opportunities to engage here in the St. Louis region. I am sure there are others as well.
I have no doubt that in our own university community we can set a tone and tenor for inclusion and the celebration of diversity, and we can work together to bridge our divides and treat each other with the respect and support everyone deserves. Please join me in recommitting ourselves to that goal.
Mark S. Wrighton