Immigration and Sarah Lawrence College:
A Letter from President Judd

Dear Members of the Sarah Lawrence Community,

As this academic year unfolds, I will continue my practice of writing to you with news and information about national issues of relevance to the College. I do this not only to share specific areas of concern for the College and to point to our response or ongoing work, but also to encourage you to engage these issues individually and collectively.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Administration is lowering the cap on refugee admissions to the United States to 30,000 individuals per year, the lowest number since the U.S. Refugee Admission Program was established in 1980, when the cap was 231,000. Against this backdrop, I wanted to share news of several initiatives underway at Sarah Lawrence related to issues of immigration and immigration policy.

Two years ago, Sarah Lawrence joined with Vassar, Bard, and Bennington Colleges to form a consortium on “Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education” that is focused on the global refugee crisis. Forced migration, on the rise around the globe, is a destabilizing geopolitical challenge that demands a response from higher education. Our consortium recognizes the role that we as liberal arts colleges must play in providing deeper understanding and exploration of potential solutions to the crisis, and the expanded capacity we have to do so through collaboration and by creating shared resources. The consortium has recently been awarded a $2.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Vassar College. The consortium’s work builds on the ongoing efforts of SLC faculty and staff in this area, including research into the impact of traumatic stress on refugees, and a number of course offerings, such as one this fall on immigration and identity. Additionally, the Office of Community Partnerships, working with a number of local charities and social service agencies, and bringing together students, staff, and faculty from Sarah Lawrence, created vibrant programming for local refugee and immigrant families over the last two summers at the Center for the Urban River, providing educational and cultural opportunities.

I also approach these issues as a member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. This coalition of college and university leaders committed to equitable and well-reasoned immigration policies seeks to keep faculty, staff, students, and alumni informed about policy developments that directly or indirectly affect the rights, freedoms, and protections of members of our learning communities. The Alliance also coordinates collaborative institutional action such as amicus legal briefs questioning immigration policies and practices that are not grounded in the law or our constitutional principles. You can see the Alliance’s most recent statement at presidentsimmigrationalliance.org.

Sarah Lawrence College is home to more than 220 students who come to us from more than 40 nations; we support programs and research that traverse the globe; and we are committed to providing an education that equips our students for responsible global citizenship. In this context, I remain deeply concerned about the effects on our students of the interrelated set of recent federal efforts to roll-back protections for so-called “Dreamers”, to deny entry to groups of immigrants on the basis of religion and national origin, and to separate and incarcerate undocumented families. At the heart of the matter is whether or not the United States and its institutions of higher education, Sarah Lawrence among them, will continue to offer a welcome and education for immigrants and refugees in the United States and to benefit from the immigrant and refugee students, scholars, and staff who have greatly enriched campuses and communities across the country.

We may differ in our stances on immigration policy, but I believe we can not waver in our commitment to our students, to our prospective students from around the globe regardless of citizenship status, or to the value of our education for those students. As we focus this year on “Difference in Dialogue” and inclusive excellence, I encourage you to become thoroughly informed on these issues, and to share your views with your elected officials.

As it happens, the forthcoming issue of Sarah Lawrence magazine is devoted to Sarah Lawrence’s global impact. Having seen the preview, I can tell you that you will be impressed with the work we have done and will continue to do on campus and through the lives of our alumni.

Yours,

               

Cristle Collins Judd, President
president@sarahlawrence.edu