Published November 21, 2016
Dear University Community,
In my conversations across campus with our domestic and international students, faculty and staff, I know that many of you are concerned about your safety and well-being and your future. I know that many of our international students, faculty and staff are concerned about national policy issues especially immigration policy. I know that many university community members are concerned about the potential erosion of civil liberties. And we have all seen and heard how these concerns echo across our campus, across our state and across our nation.
Therefore, it is all the more important to reaffirm the core values that strengthen and connect us as an academic community. At UB, we are committed to fostering an inclusive and welcoming campus community where all feel safe, respected, and valued. These core values, together with our principles of equity and fairness, are the bedrock of our university community, and they are embedded in our policies and our practices.
Our university policies express our commitment to ensuring a safe campus community free of harassment and discrimination and to protecting the privacy of all our students. These policies apply to all members of our university—domestic and international—and all visitors and volunteers on our campus.
As a matter of policy and practice, at UB, the privacy of student educational records is protected pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Our University Police Department does not make inquiries into the immigration status of students, faculty, staff or our visitors unless there has been an arrest. And it is important to note that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy characterizes colleges and universities as “sensitive locations”—meaning enforcement actions should not occur unless necessitated by extraordinary circumstances.
To once again underscore our commitment to a diverse and inclusive campus community, last week on behalf of our university, I signed the “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and Our Undocumented Immigrant Students.” This statement of support that has circulated across our nation and has been signed by a number of college and university presidents is another expression of how we at UB strongly uphold the value of being a diverse university. All of our students including our DACA students, here at UB and across our nation, should have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and their professional aspirations. Our mandate as a public research university is to contribute to an educated citizenry that is so critical to a robust democracy.
Every day, I see our students, our graduates, our faculty, our staff having a profound impact on our nation and our world. Through our combined teaching, research, learning, and engagement efforts, I see UB fulfilling our mandate as a public institution. Together, we are making an impact on our world. And we are doing this because we recognize and value the promise of all members of our university community. Seeing this promise being realized, fills me with hope for the future.
As we move from the tone and rhetoric of this election season into serious debates around many national policy issues, we must continue to ensure an inclusive and welcoming campus where all feel safe, respected and valued. This must not be the work of one or of some. It must be the work of all.
In that achievement we are truly a university community. We are UB.
Satish K. Tripathi