I’m writing to you all at a time of political turmoil and hyper-partisanship unprecedented in my lifetime. As I write, legal and political affairs are so fluid that I can’t be sure that current events will not overtake this message before it is distributed. However, I cannot be silent when so many are anxious and fearful about the safety and security of family and friends.
Central Washington University welcomes people from all walks of life, from all places on earth. We do not judge people by the origin of their birth, but by the content of their character. We embrace the value of a community enriched by diverse experiences, abilities, and cultures.
As you know, President Donald Trump recently signed several executive orders. Executive orders give federal agencies instructions on how to interpret and carry out federal law. In addition to finding information about these orders in the news and social media, I encourage you to read the orders, which you can find here.
One that has generated significant confusion was issued Friday. That order halts for 90 days the issuance of all new immigrant and non-immigrant visas from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. This order does not affect any CWU employees. However, it may affect one student and we are clarifying that person’s status now. Federal courts suspended portions of this order on Saturday and today, 15 or more attorneys general are challenging the legality of it. Until this matter is clarified, I strongly urge our students and employees to seek guidance from our Office of International Studies and Programs about all aspects of international travel and study.
I have stated before and will continue to pledge CWU’s determination to protect the freedom and security of students and employees. We are a welcoming community that places the highest value on inclusiveness, free speech, and the open exchange of ideas and cultures. The Board of Trustees strongly affirms these values.
It’s easy to feel helpless when change is happening so fast in so many places. You are not helpless. Start by seeking out facts and reading widely. Reach out to people around you to provide support and encouragement. In doing so, you may be encouraged yourself.
You may want to discuss these matters with your elected representatives (CWU is in the 8th Congressional District). They welcome your respectful concerns and questions. You may be registered to vote in a different district, in which case you can find your representatives here. Remember, each of us has power. Each of us can speak truth to power. We live in a democracy in which it is our responsibility to do so. Take heart in knowing that your university is deeply and firmly committed to promoting an inclusive environment in which students can live and learn in peace and security.
James L. Gaudino
Central Washington University
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