The following message was sent by President John Knapp to the Hope College campus community on Wednesday, February 1 2017 at 8:30 a.m.
Dear Hope Colleagues and Students:
I am aware that many of you have questions about President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and its potential effects on members of our campus community. The order, issued last Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked citizens of seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the U.S. for a 90-day period. Subsequent announcements have indicated that green card holders from those countries may be admitted to the United States, subject to security checks.
Hope College currently has no students, faculty, staff or visiting scholars from the seven countries identified in the executive order. However, our campus is home to many international students and employees, as well as individuals with loved ones living and traveling abroad. Though students are studying overseas this semester, and others are preparing for May and June terms abroad, none of them will travel to the seven countries mentioned in the executive order. We will continue closely monitoring and seeking clarity on federal policies as they are announced and implemented.
Under the guidance of Amy Otis-De Grau, the staff of Hope’s Fried Center for Global Engagement has been meeting this week with all our international students to provide support and answer questions. The Center is also the contact point for students studying abroad, and their families, should questions arise about how federal policy changes might affect their off-campus activities. You may rest assured, as always, that we will take whatever lawful steps are necessary to support and protect all those for whom we are responsible, whether abroad or at home.
I am working closely with leaders of other colleges and universities, including our peers in the GLCA, and consulting with experts in the higher education associations that represent our interests in Washington, D.C., including ACE, NAICU and CIC, among others. Also, I am personally reaching out to our global partners in majority-Muslim countries to reassure them of our continuing commitment and friendship. These include academic institutions, relief agencies and ministry organizations with which we work closely.
Let us remind ourselves of our commitment to Goal 3 of Hope’s strategic plan: Hope College will equip every student to lead and serve in a global society by orienting all areas of the college toward greater global engagement. This will not change, nor will the tradition of hospitality established by the immigrants who founded this college more than 150 years ago. Since enrolling our first international students in the mid-1870s, the words of Matthew 25:35, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me," have been lived out on this campus in relationships with people from countries and cultures the world over. Even as we continue this tradition, we must remember to pray for the countless refugees and others seeking safety in today’s uncertain world.
With gratitude for your steadfast faith and hospitality,
John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor