College and university leaders urge Trump to rectify or rescind immigration order


Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber and 47 other college and university presidents sent a letter to President Trump Thursday urging him to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing the country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world.

“If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country,” reads the letter.

The letter was initially drafted by Eisgruber and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. The text of the letter:

Dear President Trump:

We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world. If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.

The order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses. American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning, added to our prosperity, and enriched our culture. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy. America’s educational, scientific, economic, and artistic leadership depends upon our continued ability to attract the extraordinary people who for many generations have come to this country in search of freedom and a better life.

This action unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America’s best principles and greatest traditions. We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries. Their vibrant contributions to our institutions and our country exemplify the value of the religious diversity that has been a hallmark of American freedom since this country’s founding. The American dream depends on continued fidelity to that value.

We recognize and respect the need to protect America’s security. The vetting procedures already in place are rigorous. Improvements to them should be based on evidence, calibrated to real risks, and consistent with constitutional principle.

Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world.  It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.


Robert L. Barchi, President, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Kimberly W. Benston, President, Haverford College; Joanne Berger-Sweeney, President, Trinity College; George Blumenthal, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz; Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University; Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University;

Robert A. Brown, President, Boston University; Kimberly Wright Cassidy, President, Bryn Mawr College; Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University; John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University; Nicholas B. Dirks, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley; Christopher L. Eisgruber, President, Princeton University;

Adam F. Falk, President, Williams College; Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University; Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh; Howard Gillman, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine; Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania; Andrew Hamilton, President, New York University;

Philip J. Hanlon, President, Dartmouth College; Sam Hawgood, MBBS, Chancellor, University of California, San Francisco; Ralph J. Hexter, Interim Chancellor, University of California, Davis; Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame; Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor, University of California, San Diego; Marvin Krislov, President, Oberlin College;

David W. Leebron, President, Rice University; Ron Liebowitz, President, Brandeis University; Wallace D. Loh, President, University of Maryland, College Park; Anthony P. Monaco, President, Tufts University; David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College; Christina H. Paxson, President, Brown University;

Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D., President, Franklin & Marshall College; Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College; Hunter R. Rawlings III, Interim President, Cornell University; Clayton Rose, President, Bowdoin College; Peter Salovey, President, Yale University; Michael H. Schill, President, University of Oregon;

Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., President, University of Michigan; Valerie Smith, President, Swarthmore College; Barbara R. Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University; Debora L. Spar, President, Barnard College; Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., President, Stony Brook University; Sonya Stephens, Acting President, Mount Holyoke College;

Claire E. Sterk, President, Emory University; Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President, Stanford University; Satish K. Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo; Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis; Henry T. Yang, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Barbara; Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University.


  1. Isn’t that special.

    Now, they should all right a letter to Nicholas B. Dirks, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley – urging him to uphold on his campus another cherished American tradition.

    Freedom of speech.

    While they are at it, they can throw in a plea that those peacefully excercising that right are protected from being pepper sprayed or clunked on the head by a giant pole.

    Oh wait. Mr. Burke is one of the signatories to their letter.

    For goodness’ sake. Don’t they see? It’s selective outrage like this that got the addressee of their letter elected President of the United States of America.

    1. Berkeley has and continues to uphold freedom of speech. If you are coyly referring to the protests of Milo Yiannopoulos then you should come out and throw your support behind him and his hate speech instead of dancing around the issue. Just to clarify though, there were two groups protesting his speech. One a group of peaceful student protestors, who stayed behind to clean up the damage cause by the other group. These others were a masked group from out of the area (see police reports) who not only vandalized the area but also pushed, yelled at and harassed the peaceful protestors. Lastly, please be aware that during his proposed speech Milo apparently intended to live stream outing of immigrant students and trans students. So, before you throw your support behind this supposed “free speech” victim please fully understand what the purpose of his visit was. His track record from gamergate to Leslie Jones to his current tour has always been one of harassment and incitement to abuse others.

      Lastly, to claim that Universities standing up against the Muslim Ban Bannon has imposed is what caused Trump to be elected is laughably idiotic. There is nothing selective about the outrage against the Muslim Ban. The Muslim Ban strikes against the very core of what makes our nation America. It is something every American should find repulsive and should fight against at every turn.

      1. Thank you BlueBlazer for the intelligent and excellent response to the sarcastic snarky Dana. Dana is always making these types of garbage arguments.

    2. From Robert Reich: “I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students,” Reich said. “Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before.”

      “There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event,” Reich insisted. “So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth.”

      “You think it’s a strategy by [Milo Yiannopoulos] or right-wingers?” asked host Don Lemon.

      “I wouldn’t bet against it,” Reich said. “I saw these people. They all looked very– almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”

      1. “Rumors”. “Wouldn’t bet against it.” “I heard.” “I wouldn’t want to say factually but…”

        Sounds like Reich has some pretty compelling evidence there Joe (last-name-withheld).

        I find it incredulous that Professor Reich is so familiar with the tens of thousands of students on the Berkeley campus that – even when masked – he is able to tell who belongs and who is “one of those outside agitators.” (Maybe he runs a rooming house off campus.)

        Milo sounds like a first class creep. But, Berkeley, like many of the other colleges that signed President Eisgruber’s letter, tend to uphold freedom of speech when it’s speech with which they agree. That’s a fair statement.

        1. Berkeley did not limit speech. Milo was invited to speak and would have except for an estimated 100 person group of protestors. This number pales next to the estimated 1,500 peaceful protestors using their free speech prior to the arrival of the masked group. Your mental gymnastics to lay the blame for this on the University is impressive. Additionally I would note that Milo has been engaged in far more silencing of voices than this one event. If there is a force opposed to free speech it would be him. Before his being banned on twitter it would only take a tweet or two from him to direct a mob attack on a person (usually a woman), frequently driving the victim off Twitter, sometimes having to flee their home. Your choice to falsely find fault with Berkeley but give his repeated and ongoing harassment of others a pass is telling.

          1. Wow. Tough to bring myself to respond to people with made up names or incomplete ones. But, here goes.

            I’m not giving him a pass. I said he sounds like a creep. Perhaps even the great Voltaire would have to have modied his famous amphorism had he met this man.

            It is nevertheless clear that universities today, including the venerable Cal Berkeley, have modified their previous positions of bastions of free speech no matter what the content and have replaced that with speech codes. Many of the universities signing that letter have infamously disinvited qualified speakers based upon their messages. Why? Pressure from folks who disagree with the message. Fear of being called a fill-the-blank-ist. The brave Ayan Hirsi Ali immediately comes to mind.

            You say Milo’s speech invites the potential for violence, which, under the right and very limited circumstances, is a basis for restricting the First Amendment guarantee.

            So, I find it curious that on the Berkeley campus the other night, there was ACTUAL violence and the university and town police did nothing to protect the people or property.

            Certainly not one of Berkeley’s shining moments – for many reasons.

            1. Beg to differ, but it is *not* clear that Universities today are limiting free speech. It is true that people previously side-lined in our society (LGBTQ, immigrants, women, African Americans, etc.) are stepping up and using their voices more and more. In the last several years these groups have begun to become more vocal in defending themselves against the everyday attacks, belittlements, and harassment they live with. Witness the recent discussion about our own town’s history of racism by way of the challenge to Woodrow Wilson’s legacy. People, mostly white guys, not used to being challenged in this way have been spooked and are singing a variation on that old chestnut: “political correctness.” The idea of “free speech” isn’t what people like Milo claim. Milo being unable to speak at Berkeley is no more an oppression of his voice than his being banned from Twitter was. Harassment and hate speech should bring consequences.

              If you read the police statement about Berkeley it will be clear why they did not engage with the small group of violent protestors.

              I happen to also disagree about it not being one of Berkeley’s shining moments. Look past the protesters and Milo fans engaged in assault and harassment. Look to the students who came out in force against the ideas Milo spews, and withstood the aggression from the others without yeilding. These same students then returned in the morning to clean up the damage and destruction they were not part of. That’s my take away from this.

              1. The fact that the groups in your parenthetical increasingly have a voice on college campuses is wonderful. But, it’s not a zero sum game. All voices should heard – with the exception of those that raise a ‘clear & present danger’ – no matter what side of the political spectrum.

                They are not. Simply, Google disinvited speakers and you’ll see. Again the shabby treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes to mind. Check out Mayor Bloomberg’s commencement address at Harvard a few years ago. My point is not seriously disputed – your “alternate facts” notwithstanding.

                Perhaps the Berkeley ‘students’ should be commended for their mop up operation. My point was that the Berkeley ‘administration’ should have taken steps to obviate the need for such an operation. It’s nonfeasance in this regard is inexcusable.

  2. Unfortunately, the fastest way to get Trump to dig in is to oppose him. It is abundantly clear that he has very real psychological problems. He is easily provoked, he is in charge of the most powerful armed forces in the world, and we are all along for the ride, at least until we can get him out of office. Thank you so much, Republican Party!

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