Dear Tulane Community,
I have heard concerns from international and Muslim students, undocumented students and students registered under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program regarding the possibility that their status at Tulane University may make them more susceptible to deportation. I want to provide as much clarity as I can.
As a new administration takes office in Washington, the higher education community finds itself embroiled in a national discussion about federal immigration law. That discussion centers on DACA, a policy that protects from deportation undocumented young people raised in the United States, including hundreds of thousands of undocumented college students. While I do not normally participate in petitions or mass letters, in November I signed a statement, along with 600 other college and university presidents, expressing my support for the DACA program. DACA students have grown up, worked and studied in this country and are part of Tulane’s bright and talented community – now and always.
Tulane does not track the immigration status of our students, other than international students here on student visas. Further, federal law protects the privacy of student information. In accordance with the Federal Family Education and Rights of Privacy Act (FERPA), we cannot and will not voluntarily share private information about any of our students unless we are specifically required to do so because of a duly issued warrant or subpoena. While we cannot bar representatives of federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection from entering our open campus, I can assure you that it is not the responsibility or the role of the Tulane University Police Department to conduct federal immigration enforcement.
There also have been reports this week of the possibility of a freeze on immigration from several countries, an order that would have the potential to impact a number of our students and faculty. Students whose studies might be affected should contact their academic advisor and dean. The Graduate Council, for example, has voted to allow graduate students to defend their dissertations by Skype if unable to return to the United States for immigration reasons.
Our new Office of Academic Equity, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) are available to provide information and counsel for students who may have concerns about their status.
We will continue to monitor the unfolding national discussion on immigration while maintaining our commitment to an open, inclusive, diverse and safe environment. In my letter on Nov. 9th, I asked each of you to treat one another with dignity and respect and to work hard to understand why some students feel particularly vulnerable right now. This is a moment when we must actively choose to come together as a Tulane family and communicate across our political differences. It is a moment for all of us to learn to discuss issues with those who disagree with us, whether from the left or the right, and to listen to them with an open heart.