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Readers Reflect: How Should Harvard Respond to the Immigration Ban?

Readers Reflect: How Should Harvard Respond to the Immigration Ban?
Oset Babür

harvard reflects on immigration ban

Last week, this magazine asked readers for their views on President Drew Faust’s letter to the Harvard community last week that affirmed “We Are All Harvard” in response to a White House immigration ban affecting students, faculty, and staff directly and indirectly. (In the interval since the question was posted, the University has filed an amicus brief to Loughalam v. Trump, the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts in opposition to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order.) Some of the responses received to date from members of the Harvard community appear below. We hope that sharing these texts will help foster continued reflection and encourage important discussions both on and off campus.

 

“I’d like to see the Harvard community take action in this situation. Rather than simply looking to President Faust or the other, formal leaders of Harvard, this seems one of those historical moments when it is up to us as the Harvard community to make our collective voices heard—heard today, heard tomorrow, heard as long as is needed to restore the fundamental principles of moral integrity, due process, and abiding generosity that have made us all better men and women, and can again. If those are lost, Harvard the institution may yet survive. What will die are the covenants that have made us the Harvard community.”

Richard Parker, lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and senior fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy

 

“President Faust should focus on her assigned duty, which is to run Harvard University within the laws and constitution of the USA and its sub-jurisdictions and according to its vision and strategy…To speak out like this, in the role of a lobbyist or journalist, is to overstep the bounds of her position; to distract the University from its roles as teacher, researcher, and councilor; and to misdirect the resources of the University towards purposes for which they were not intended.”   

Jonathan Gal  ’90

 

“Class bans of countries, nationalities, ages, and/or religions are the least ineffective for improving our security; most likely dangerous by instigating backlash at home as well as abroad; deprive us of the skills and talents of others; change America’s values of innocent until proven guilty, of nondiscrimination, of aiding those in need. Actions against classes of people seem clearly immoral.”

George H. Wolkon ‘56

 

Harvard is an educational [institution], not a political one. We should not get into politics, no matter how despicable or unconstitutional they seem.”

George R. Miller ‘65

 

“I suggest that a Harvard Law School team publish legal arguments for an against the ban that Supreme Court justices may want to review before deciding, assuming a challenge gets that far. If there is no appropriate legal justification for it, then state reasons clearly and in a vocabulary sufficiently simple that Trump may grasp. Or, produce a quality paper along with a youTube presentation with tweet-like translations that Trump may be more likely to access and read.” 

Mary Ann Lavin, S.M. ’74, S.D ’78

 

“Because he campaigned with clarity of intention on antiterrorism and regulation of immigration, Trump’s election represented a referendum on these topics, among others. Let us have respect for our fellow citizens, who put this administration in office. Let us try to come together and have patience in finding common ground. So, for now, let the big H stand for help, not hyperventilation, not hysteria. Help the students et al become documented and help America as a whole.”  

Fred Poulin ’70

 

“The entire university should always take action against tyranny. I support Dr. Faust and would have been extremely disappointed in my alma mater if Dr. Faust (and others) had not taken these minimal  actions. If we are striving for a peaceful world, we need to take the broadest possible view of America as part of an international community. We must continually support each other, empathize, and use the golden rule (whatever our religions). The rhetoric leading to this presidential order, its text, and rollout have all undermined these goals. Resist and act to promote a positive WORLD view. History demonstrates this is a proven pathway towards peace.”

Debra Bowen, M.D. ’78

 

“Refugees are already subject to so-called extreme vetting, so the need for this EO is questionable at best. Refugees and immigrants have been crucial to the development of this country, and prohibiting non-citizen students from studying at Harvard and other universities is counter productive, in part by keeping them from ultimately making significant contributions to the development of the U.S. economy.”

Richard Keatinge, Ph.D. ’73 

 

“I am pleased that Harvard is once again on record defending the value of diversity, respect for all persons regardless of race, culture, religion, or national origin, and the critical need to bring students and faculty together from all over the world to share ideas and demonstrate the positive impact of mutuality and cooperation to address our world’s pressing needs.”

Ernest F. Krug III ’68

 

“Our present situation is dire. Our democracy, the freedoms we enjoy, and the balance of power among the three co-equal branches are severely threatened by this new administration. And if there’s collusion with Putin and Russia, it’s even worse. The environment is also in peril. Harvard must stand up and fight like it’s never fought before.”

Tom Watson ’91

 

“I think the response has to be from a constitutional viewpoint. Our president is not going to consider alternative viewpoints….We need to understand that our way of life is under attack, and he is leading the attack. We must use the tools at our disposal to turn the attack aside. I think our constitution is our best chance.”

David Daniel, M.B.A. ‘75

 

“How should Harvard respond to the travel bans? Condemn them, of course. They are immoral, unconstitutional, and un-American, not to mention stupid foreign policy that sabotages the U.S. fight against terrorism. We cannot allow ourselves to redefine American as white, Christian, racist, misogynistic, paternalistic, antagonistic to science, and isolationist.”

Ida Picker A.B ’67

 

“Harvard should recognize that other presidents, specifically Obama, have made similar policies.  It should also be humane, but realistic, with its own undocumented students.  It should refrain from encouraging undocumented people from coming to the US. Harvard should obey the US government while researching and advocating for policies it believes to be in the better interest of the American people.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Judy Graffis Chizek MPP ‘86 

 

 

 

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