Craig Taylor | Staff Writer
Duquesne President Ken Gormley issued a response to faculty members listed in the Social Justice Association’s letter.
The Faculty and Staff Social Justice Association issued a letter to Duquesne President Gormley concerning his upcoming address at the Race and Cultural Understanding in a New Era” event on Feb. 13.
The letter, signed by 50 Duquesne faculty members, is in response to Gormley’s message to students following President Trump’s immigration executive order. The Social Justice Association’s letter to Gormley, which was also sent to Duquesne faculty and graduate students, makes several requests to Gormley to afford protections to international students.
Daniel Selcer, associate professor of philosophy and member of the Social Justice Association, said their group wanted to make sure the president follows through on his promises.
“I think the conversation that quickly developed in the Social Justice Association was about how the university was going to make those very admirable sentiments concrete,” Selcer said.
First, they ask campus police to not honor immigration hold requests issued by law enforcement without a judicial warrant, subpoena, court order or otherwise imminent threat. Second, it requests Duquesne campus officials to not share confidential student or employee information or allow federal immigration enforcement agents on campus without the previous criteria. Finally, it asks that Gormley sign the Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DACA, which has been signed by 627 university presidents, is a commitment for universities to protect legal and undocumented immigrants in their communities.
“I think there really is a threat,” said Fred Evans, coordinator for the Social Justice Association. “Part of it is uncertainty, because we really don’t know what Trump is up to except that he is not particularly hospitable to immigrants.”
Evans wants Duquesne’s campus to echo Gormley’s sentiments that international students are welcome here.
“I think part of us sending it out so widely is to say to our fellow faculty and students that we support those members of our student body and faculty who are immigrants and we value their presence here. They enrich our campus with their many different points of view and backgrounds,” he said.
Selcer says that he knows the fear of international students is real, as he’s heard from scared students firsthand.
“People have come to see me in my office to tell me how terrified they are, not just in the abstract sense but in the concrete sense about what is coming down the road in the next several months for them,” he said. “In my own department we have had graduate students that have had to radically change research plans, in some cases consider rejecting grants this summer, because they’re afraid that if they cross the border they’ll never be let back into the country.”
Evans believes that because the letter and Gormley’s message to the Duquesne community, it’s likely that he will address the Social Justice Association’s requests in his speech this Monday.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, because they’re pretty much in accord with a lot of his own statements, so I’d be surprised if he didn’t make some mention of it,” he said. “Also, it’s from a large number of his faculty and staff, and I would expect him to respond to them.”