The Georgetown University Faculty Senate, a governing body of 75 full-time faculty members who advise President John DeGioia, approved a resolution last week condemning President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, promising to support and protect all university faculty, staff and students who stand to be harmed by the travel ban.
The original order, which was quickly blocked by federal courts, temporarily banned citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen from entering the United States, regardless of visa status, and prevented the admission of all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were barred from entering the country indefinitely.
The language of the resolution is appropriately searing, calling the ban, “unjustified and contrary to American values,” as well as, “an affront to human decency.” More specifically, the resolution says the order contravenes the Jesuit values espoused by the university, including interfaith understanding, community in diversity and respect for the dignity of all human beings.
While the resolution established a hard-line political stance on the executive order, the university can translate its moral convictions into action by supporting a student-led initiative to accommodate refugee families.
Although the original executive order has been overturned since Feb. 3, the Trump administration is expected to issue a modified ban sometime this week in the hope that it will pass muster with federal courts. Georgetown should serve as an example for Catholic and non-Catholic universities alike by sponsoring a refugee family in need.
Citing Pope Francis’ call that all religious communities accommodate one refugee family, a petition launched by Max Rosner (COL ’18) asking for the university to heed Pope Francis’ call has already accrued hundreds of signatures from the Georgetown community.
So far, only two U.S. universities have sponsored refugee families: Guilford College, a Quaker school, and Wake Forest University, a secular university, both in North Carolina. However, Georgetown’s neighbor, Holy Trinity Parish, successfully welcomed a refugee family of eight from Syria just last week, demonstrating that this community partnership is not just conceivable, but achievable in our community.
The university has taken assumed a moral stance by rebuking the travel ban. University President John J. DeGioia has further reinforced the university’s moral imperative by signing letters opposing the order, including ones from the American Council on Education and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
The resolution encourages Georgetown students to contact their representatives to voice their displeasure and urge the administration to formally withdraw the order. However, just as the university asks its students to take action, so too does this editorial board call on the university to take an active role in this issue.
A powerful way for the university to show solidarity with affected members of the Georgetown community is to sponsor a refugee family. Moreover, as a Catholic and Jesuit university, we are uniquely called to welcome and love our less fortunate neighbors.
There are currently 21 million refugees registered by the United Nations, the highest level of displacement on record, making this one of the worst times in the history of the United States for the Trump administration to try to close its doors.
By encouraging students to sign the petition, the university would support the advocacy efforts of students and help honor the human dignity of a family in need. The community should be doubly compelled to support this cause, both as an inclusive, pluralistic university dedicated to standing with all of its students, and as a distinctively Jesuit and Catholic university called to respond with compassion to those in need.