Response to Immigration Policies

When founded in 1855, Butler University admitted women and African Americans when others thought them unsuitable or dangerous and excluded them from higher education. Embracing the vision and values of Ovid Butler, we, the faculty and staff of the History & Anthropology Department at Butler University, wish to state clearly our opposition to the Executive Order dated January 27, 2017 issued by President Donald J. Trump, which suspends all resettlement of refugees and bans entry to all nationals, potentially including U.S. green card holders, from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In addition, President Trump has announced plans to repeal legislative policies such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), and has taken a much more aggressive stance towards undocumented immigrants generally. In this climate, we feel an urgency to declare publicly our support for undocumented people in our campus community and demand that Butler University do all within its power to protect them from unfair deportation, detention, investigation, or other forms of intimidation.

The immigration and travel ban violates internationally recognized conventions of human rights and is a direct assault on the lives and dignity of millions of people fleeing war and persecution. Both the ban and efforts to rescind the rights of undocumented people in our country will undermine the rights of our students and colleagues to receive an education and to engage in research and collaboration. The moral principles upon which the U.S. was built are fundamentally undermined by these actions–as are many of the most important strengths of our democracy.

The disciplines of history and anthropology, at their most fundamental level, seek to bridge cultural divides and promote human understanding. President Trump’s executive order is not simply an attack on the values of Butler University; it is an affront to the pursuit of knowledge itself. It prevents a critical engagement with the past and with other humans that we, as scholars and professors, attempt to cultivate in all of our students. It minimizes empathy and understanding while inducing division, which stands in direct opposition to the goals of historical and anthropological inquiry.

Ovid Butler’s legacy and dream for our university calls upon us as an academic community to pursue knowledge, oppose discrimination, and reflect critically on all that we study, including our rights and responsibilities as citizens. There are also times when we are called upon as a community to act on our convictions and our conscience. This is one of those times.