Responding to refugees

November 20, 2015

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

The tragic acts of terrorism perpetrated in Beirut, Paris, Nigeria, and the airspace over Egypt offer a stark and chilling reminder of the profound threats to global peace and security. As we extend our deepest condolences to those affected by this indiscriminate violence, we must reject the inclination to act out of fear and, instead, demonstrate a commitment to the values that define our free and open democratic society. Closing our borders -- as many lawmakers have called for in recent days -- to those who risk their lives to flee war and persecution, is antithetical to what we stand for as citizens of this nation and the world.

Earlier this semester, I announced a plan to take deliberate steps, consistent with our mission as a university, to respond to the surge of refugees within the Middle East and into Europe. In addition to the humanitarian work many Brown faculty and students have undertaken, and the many education, scholarship, and program initiatives that help raise awareness of the political, historical, and cultural issues prompted by these events, we committed to supporting students and scholars displaced by strife in these regions of the world. The Brown community has embraced this effort in inspiring ways.

Since that announcement, we have made progress working with the Institute for International Education (IIE) and others to identify scholars displaced by war who might thrive as members of our academic community. One scholar has accepted our offer to come to Brown for the 2016 calendar year, and we are working to identify others. We have also joined the IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, and conveyed our interest in accepting affected undergraduate or graduate students so that they may continue their studies. While resources limit the number of students and scholars we are able to host here at Brown, we remain determined to play a small role in addressing this humanitarian crisis. We hope other institutions of higher education will join us.

Brown has a proud tradition of responding to crises, locally and globally, in ways that advance our mission to contribute to the community, the nation, and the world through teaching, research, and service. In the face of an increasingly unstable world, the need is ever more pressing to recommit to this work and to ensure that our intellectual and physical boundaries remain open and welcoming.


Richard Locke