More than 250 University of Richmond faculty and staff members have signed a statement to “unequivocally reject and condemn President Trump’s executive actions” this week.
Faculty and staff members specifically cited freezing travel with seven predominantly Muslim countries, halting refugee programs and inflammatory rhetoric.
“We denounce the hateful and discriminatory language and threats, including recent incidents directed against Muslims, Jews, women, Latinos, African-Americans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and others,” the statement reads. “We stand ready to defend the rights and liberties of our diverse community and the rule of law upon which freedom and equality rest.
“We affirm our commitment to support the dissemination of accurate knowledge about immigrants and refugees and to understand all facets of diversity. We remain fully committed to the core values of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusivity, values that we believe are shared by the majority of those who live in the United States of America. We will defend those values with respect to our campus and home communities.”
The full statement, including signatures as of 1:30 p.m., can be read here.
By 1:30 p.m. Monday, the statement had been signed by 263 faculty and staff members, nearly 70 of who have co-signed since 11 a.m. University of Richmond has 1,555 full-time faculty and staff members, according to the school's Human Resources Department. With signatures from nearly 150 professors, eight different deans, and staff from facilities to dining services, the statement has representation from nearly every facet of campus life.
“This is a moment in which those principles of equality and our empathy for social inclusion matter the most,” Ernesto Semán, an assistant professor of leadership studies who co-authored the letter, said. “We see the political environment unleashed by the decisions of President Trump are a direct attack to those principles. So we need to make that explicit, and build a force to preserve those ideals we believe are fundamental to us.”
Semán and Jennifer Pribble, a political science professor, co-wrote the statement. Semán stressed that the letter was not a knee-jerk reaction from the events of the past week, but rather the culmination of conversations between faculty and staff on campus that have been marinating since the election.
“We considered whether it was important or not to make a statement and while we were talking about that, the events outside of the university precipitated our decision to write the letter,” Semán said. “This is not, 'I was having a coffee with Jenny and came up with this idea.' This has been discussed among professors and staff for weeks. We only put that into words and started to circulate it.”
Protests erupted spontaneously around the country in the wake of Trump’s executive order, which left hundreds stranded in airports across the country as officials tried to comply with a law that had been changed while passengers were in the air. The order is facing heavy legal pushback from advocacy groups.
On Sunday, Richmond President Ronald Crutcher sent out a university-wide email denouncing Trump’s actions. “Such exclusion based on national origin or religious beliefs is contrary to American ideals and threatens the mission of higher education,” Crutcher wrote.
Trump has been president for 11 days.
“(We must) defend our principles with systematic and careful work with the authorities so we can make sure students and faculty here can be safe and cannot feel threatened,” Semán said.
The statement will be updated periodically as new signatures are added.
Contact reporter Danny Heifetz at firstname.lastname@example.org