Dear Members of the Brown Community,
The recent election has created uncertainty and anxiety for many members of our community. This was clearly expressed at the recent walkout our students held in solidarity with campuses across the country, as well as in the petitions supporting undocumented members of our community that we received from faculty, students and alumni.
We understand and share these deeply felt concerns, and want to reiterate our commitment to being an inclusive and socially just community that values every member. We know that to be the exceptional academic community to which we aspire — contributing in meaningful ways to address society’s most pressing issues — requires individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. It also requires cultivating an environment in which individuals are free from intimidation, harassment and fear, liberated to explore ideas openly and rigorously. Multiple offices have been working to support students, and we want to remind you of the range of resources available to support health, wellness and academic success.
Of particular and immediate concern is the potential for changes to national policies and programs that directly affect our undocumented students and students with federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. It’s important to make clear that Brown does not share information with law enforcement regarding the immigration status of undocumented or DACA status students, and would not without a subpoena. Brown’s Department of Public Safety neither inquires about nor acts upon information related to immigration status, and does not partner with federal or state agencies to do so. Brown University remains committed to the principle of non-discrimination, including equal protection under the law, regardless of national origin or citizenship.
There are a number of individuals and offices on campus providing resources for our undocumented and DACA students. To ensure ongoing coordination of support on campus, President Paxson has charged the Provost to lead and oversee these ongoing efforts. Additional specific steps since the election include working to provide legal resources to students and financial support for specific needs like DACA renewal. Brown is also playing a leadership role in advocating for the protection of DACA with state and federal elected and appointed officials. Should any changes transpire to the DACA program that may affect a student’s financial aid award, the University will expand institutional scholarship funds to meet any funding gaps. Our goal is to eliminate obstacles that may affect these highly valued individuals from contributing fully to and benefitting from the Brown educational experience.
Our commitment to supporting undocumented and DACA students is part of a larger University-wide effort to address issues of discrimination, bias, bigotry and structural racism, and to create a more inclusive campus, where all members are treated fairly. In the early fall, Provost Richard Locke and Vice President Liza Cariaga-Lo provided an update on the progress our campus has made on the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion action plan (DIAP). This includes things like the opening of the First-Generation and Low-Income (FLi) Center, launching Native American and Indigenous Studies at Brown, and making great strides in diversifying the Brown faculty. Over the course of this semester, Brown has taken additional steps, including expanding our partnership with the Questbridge college matching organization, and increasing our support for bringing admitted students from historically underrepresented groups to campus for A Day on College Hill (which has a powerful impact on successfully recruiting these students). We have also continued to make improvements to counseling and psychological services (CAPS).
In addition, all academic departments have released their own Departmental Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans, and critical divisions like Campus Life are working on their department plans. The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion is preparing an annual report for distribution early in the spring semester. Recent progress of Brown’s DIAP-related efforts can be found in the November 2016 update. If you have questions about this important work and how to get involved, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.
The progress we have made promoting a more just and inclusive community at Brown has been possible only through the concerted efforts of our faculty, students, staff and alumni. We know that much more is needed to advance our values — on campus and off — and to ensure that we benefit from the full and unfettered participation of every member of our community. We invite everyone to join together in this important work: reach out to us, collaborate with us, and help us ensure a more socially just Brown.
Christina Paxson, President
Richard M. Locke, Provost
Eric Estes, Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services