Date February 3, 2017
Media Contact

Letter from the President: Brown's Response to the Executive Order

On Feb. 3, University President Christina Paxson wrote to the Brown community about the executive order on immigration and refugee policy and the University's support for its students and scholars.

Dear Members of the Brown Community:

The Executive Order on immigration and refugee policy is an issue of the utmost importance for Brown, principally because it has significant implications for the personal well-being and mobility of members of our community and their families. Accordingly, in the days since the Order was enacted, the University has taken a number of steps to make clear our position, and ensure that our international students and scholars are safe, secure and free to study, teach and conduct research at Brown. I would add that we have done so even as developments related to its implementation remain fluid.

For students and scholars from the seven countries covered by the Executive Order, we have reached out to assure them that Brown is intent on protecting their status as members of the Brown community. More concretely, we are making available the following resources to support these individuals:

  • Access to immigration and legal advising;
  • Expanded opportunities to remain on campus throughout their time at Brown, including research engagements and internships during University holidays and breaks;
  • Housing assistance and other resources during these break periods;
  • And for students and scholars who are prevented from traveling to campus, we are exploring the use of virtual teaching and learning platforms so that these individuals can continue to participate in the Brown educational experience.

For all other international students at Brown who have concerns about whether the Executive Order will impact their status at the University in any way, we have set in motion a number of processes aimed at providing up-to-date information and answering practical questions.

  • The Office of Global Engagement (OGE) in partnership with relevant offices across campus, will host several community gatherings and information sessions to support our international students. On February 7, a legal advising workshop with an immigration lawyer is planned, followed by a panel discussion that includes Brown staff responsible for government and community affairs, visa and compliance, and campus life.
  • And we are encouraging all Brown community members, especially our international students and scholars, to register their international travel through the Brown University Global Assistance Program so that we can provide up-to-date medical, security, and other forms of travel assistance.

With the launch of the Global Brown Community and Support referral system, we are encouraging all members of the Brown community to contact OGE should they need any assistance to ensure their support and inclusion on campus. OGE is also meeting with various international student groups and departments to answer questions and provide general support.

Further, I have asked the Office of the Provost to convene a working group comprised of the heads of major units on campus to address issues as they arise in a rapidly changing environment and to think proactively about how to safeguard our international students and scholars going forward.

Lastly, we are creating a web page on that will serve as a central platform for all information, guidance, materials, and resources related to Executive Order and its impact on Brown University students, scholars and campus life. We expect that web page to launch in the coming week.

Looking ahead, we anticipate questions from prospective students who are awaiting admissions decisions in the coming months. We are, therefore, contacting applicants from the seven affected countries to reassure them that the Executive Order will not in any way affect their chance for admission and that, if admitted, their spots will be held until they are able to secure a visa.

More generally, Brown has made its position on the Executive Order crystal clear: that it runs counter to our commitment to free inquiry and the advancement of knowledge; it is antithetical in letter and spirit to our insistence that individual students and scholars should be free to pursue their scholarship and learning without fear of intimidation or discrimination of any kind; and it contradicts our unconditional rejection of every form of bigotry, discrimination, xenophobia and harassment.

I firmly believe that education and knowledge creation are global public goods. Our charge as a leading university is to engage fully in the world, bringing the most talented faculty and students to Brown without regard to nationality or religion. The Executive Order runs counter to American traditions and values and restricts the ability of Brown and other institutions of higher education to fulfill their missions.

Brown is working closely with other universities to develop collective responses to the Executive Order.

On Brown's behalf, I have signed several letters of condemnation — from the Association of American Universities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a group of peer university presidents — calling on the Trump Administration to, variously, rescind the Executive Order; affirm the valuable contributions of international students to research, innovation, and economic vitality; and shape immigration policies that honor the founding principles of the United States.

In addition, the University’s initial responses to the Executive Order are reflected in two statements to our community that are posted on the website and linked below. Going forward, I would encourage alumni and all members of our community to check to learn about Brown's response to this and other issues that may arise in the future.

Message from Brown’s President and Provost: Commitment to our Community in a Time of Uncertainty

Letter from Provost Richard M. Locke regarding executive order on immigration and refugee policy

Letter from University and College Presidents regarding the executive order on immigration and refugee policy

Finally, the Executive Order has placed all of us in uncharted territory to some extent, and like so many other colleges and universities, Brown is in the early stages of responding. In light of this, you should know that, as Trump Administration guidance under the Order continues to be developed, it will remain our highest priority to ensure the safety, security and status of all affected Brown students and scholars.

I thank the Brown community for coming together on this issue, supporting each other, and affirming our values.


Christina H. Paxson