Trump travel ban is ‘dimming the lamp of liberty’

Heads of US universities unite to condemn US president’s executive order

February 3, 2017
Donald Trump
Source: iStock

Forty-eight prominent US university presidents have written to Donald Trump urging him to rescind his controversial executive order, introduced on 27 January, which bars immigrants and non-immigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

Since the order was signed, US universities and universities around the world have condemned Mr Trump, describing the travel ban as “hateful”, “misguided” and “harmful”.

The letter, and details of all signatories, are reproduced in full below.


Dear President Trump: 

We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world. If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.

The order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses. American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning, added to our prosperity, and enriched our culture. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy. America’s educational, scientific, economic, and artistic leadership depends upon our continued ability to attract the extraordinary people who for many generations have come to this country in search of freedom and a better life.

This action unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America’s best principles and greatest traditions. We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries. Their vibrant contributions to our institutions and our country exemplify the value of the religious diversity that has been a hallmark of American freedom since this country’s founding. The American dream depends on continued fidelity to that value.

We recognize and respect the need to protect America’s security. The vetting procedures already in place are rigorous. Improvements to them should be based on evidence, calibrated to real risks, and consistent with constitutional principle.

Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world. It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.


Robert L. Barchi
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey


Kimberly W. Benston
Haverford College


Joanne Berger-Sweeney  
Trinity College


George Blumenthal
University of California, Santa Cruz 


Lee C. Bollinger
Columbia University


Richard H. Brodhead
Duke University 


Robert A. Brown
Boston University


Kimberly Wright Cassidy
Bryn Mawr College 


Ronald J. Daniels
Johns Hopkins University


John J. DeGioia
Georgetown University 


Nicholas B. Dirks
University of California, Berkeley


Christopher L. Eisgruber
Princeton University


Adam F. Falk
Williams College


Drew Gilpin Faust
Harvard University


Patrick Gallagher
University of Pittsburgh


Howard Gillman
University of California, Irvine 


Amy Gutmann
University of Pennsylvania


Andrew Hamilton
New York University 


Philip J. Hanlon
Dartmouth College


Sam Hawgood, MBBS
University of California, San Francisco 


Ralph J. Hexter
Interim Chancellor
University of California, Davis


Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame


Pradeep K. Khosla
University of California, San Diego


Marvin Krislov
Oberlin College


David W. Leebron
Rice University


Ron Liebowitz
Brandeis University


Wallace D. Loh
University of Maryland, College Park


Anthony P. Monaco
Tufts University


David Oxtoby
Pomona College


Christina H. Paxson
Brown University


Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D.
Franklin & Marshall College


Carol Quillen
Davidson College


Hunter R. Rawlings III
Interim President
Cornell University


Clayton Rose
Bowdoin College


Peter Salovey
Yale University


Michael H. Schill
University of Oregon


Mark Schlissel M.D., Ph.D.
University of Michigan


Valerie Smith
Swarthmore College 


Barbara R. Snyder
Case Western Reserve University


Debora L. Spar
Barnard College 


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.
Stony Brook University


Sonya Stephens
Acting President
Mount Holyoke College


Claire E. Sterk
Emory University


Mark Tessier-Lavigne
Stanford University 


Satish K. Tripathi
University at Buffalo


Mark S. Wrighton
Washington University in St Louis


Henry T. Yang
University of California, Santa Barbara


Nicholas S. Zeppos
Vanderbilt University

Read more: Trump makes funding threat to UC Berkeley

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