The Faculty Executive Committee met on Monday to discuss President Donald Trump’s executive order prohibiting citizens of seven Muslim nations from entering the United States.
The committee debated both procedural and moral obligations of the University in the wake of the executive order.
Committee members began drafting a statement expressing their continued desire to respect and support all members of the University community.
Greg Forest, mathematics professor, said it is important for the University to support students directly affected by the order, many of whom are scared and looking for solace.
“To make such an executive order that picks out select individuals who just so happen to come from a Muslim country is simply unacceptable,” Forest said.
UNC Executive Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Ron Strauss said the University is reaching out to all students and faculty from the seven countries listed in the order.
“I think it would be useful to get an idea of the scope, because we are talking about over 3,000 people on this campus,” Strauss said. “I think it’s important for you to get a picture that everybody that is in this group of international scholars, post-docs and students are all affected.”
Strauss said if a person is from one of the seven countries, he advises them not to leave the country in the next 90 days.
“The thing we’ve got to remember is this is an order that lasts for 90 days,” he said. “One thing we’ve already seen with the Trump administration is they float these trial balloons, see the blowback and sometimes reel things back.”
Mark Merritt, vice chancellor and general counsel for the University, said as the country is not in an election cycle, University employees can share their individual thoughts on the executive order without fear of legal recourse.
“You can express your views, and it would be my expectation that people would do that on an issue they support to the University,” Merritt said. “Express it to your congressman, express it to your senator; let your viewpoints be known.”
Richard Superfine, physics professor, said UNC has to value their principles and be ready for serious questions in the future.
“I’m really concerned that we’re wholly unprepared coming down the line for moral decisions the University is going to have to make,” Superfine said. “I would like to see that discussion start happening.”
Forest said the University should establish a process to respond to future governmental actions.
“Folks, this is the beginning," Forest said. “We need to have a process for vetting things that we find, frankly, un-American and we need to be ready to be able to respond if the insanity continues.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.