As we begin our new term together, we hope that you return from intersession rested and energized for the spring semester. This will be a time for all of us—both individually and as a community—to reflect on and live out our institutional values while navigating what has already become a turbulent transfer of power to a new political administration.
We hope you will take a moment to think about your own positions on current events on and off campus, and that you come back renewed and ready to be the best possible version of a university citizen: engaged and curious, open and generous, thoughtful and articulate, patient and kind.
The views and positions of a new administration always move our country into a political transition. The latest transfer of power is no different. Some of President Trump’s recent executive orders, however, have a disproportionate impact on our campus community, as students from seven different nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—will be subjected to an extreme vetting process when entering or leaving the country, an order originally set for 120 days from its signing. As you may know, recent legal actions have temporarily halted the implementation of the order, but there continues to be much confusion and concern about its future impact.
As President Eisgruber’s recent email to the Princeton community and his letter to President Trump (which was signed by 47 other American college and university presidents) emphasizes, we value our students, faculty, and staff from all nations and faiths. Our scholarship, teaching, and learning is driven by contributions from those whose heritage and ancestry has roots across the globe, many of whom are immigrants, permanent residents, undocumented, or from countless international contexts. In addition, we’re proud that over 10% of our current undergraduate population and 40% of our graduate population comes from countries outside the U.S.
We want to assure those of you most vulnerable to the recent executive order that our offices stand ready to help and support you as we move through these unstable times. The Davis International Center is a valuable source of information and advocacy; they have produced a useful FAQ for DACA and undocumented students, and another to address questions raised by the latest order.
Likewise, the staff of Campus Life, the Graduate School, and the Office of the Dean of the College stand ready to answer questions from any student concerned about travel into or out of the country. Staff and administrators from across the campus have been meeting regularly to monitor the changes in policy that affect our community members and to respond with the appropriate resources and support.
At unpredictable times like these, when so much is at stake, we shouldn’t expect unanimity of opinion at Princeton. Our campus prides itself on its intellectual diversity, as well as boasting a community that thrives through our differences in race and ethnicity, gender and nationality, faith and creed, and many others. Rather than presuming agreement, you might listen carefully to those who disagree with your perspective. We urge you to learn from one another through a free exchange of ideas, however complex and sensitive.
Several departments on campus plan to provide opportunities to productively engage in dialogue and discussion about the critical issues that face our community and our nation. For only one example, the Woodrow Wilson School and the Program for Law and Public Affairs has put together a workshop and panel discussion, President Trump and the Constitution: The Rights of Immigrants and Refugees, to be held on Thursday, February 9, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. This calendar has information on other events or you can subscribe here. We encourage all of you to actively engage in learning and talking about these critically important issues.
Spring semester always brings the promise of renewal with the wistfulness of closure. Many are looking forward to the end of their college or graduate school career at Princeton this June; others are thinking about topics for dissertations, junior papers, or senior theses. Still others continue their transition to a new campus, with rigorous intellectual requirements and a host of curricular and co-curricular options. All of this activity happens, of necessity, against the backdrop of a changing world.
Please know you can count on us and our colleagues to answer your questions and offer support and guidance in whatever ways you might find helpful.
With our best wishes,
Jill Dolan, Dean of the College
W. Rochelle Calhoun, Vice President for Campus Life
Sanjeev Kulkarni, Dean of the Graduate School