September 22, 2017, BY Mike Ferlazzo

Bertrand Library
Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

Bucknell University joined 30 other colleges and universities this week in calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the decisions of lower Courts of Appeals striking down the White House's executive order suspending the entry into the U.S. of nationals from six identified countries. In the joint amicus brief, Bucknell maintained that "providing an excellent undergraduate education to all students requires a firm and demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusiveness."

"Since admitting its first international student in 1858 — Bucknell has benefited from and greatly valued the unique insights and experiences that its international students, faculty, and staff bring to campus," the brief stated. "Bucknell is committed to continuing to encourage these individuals to join its community and fulfilling its mission to foster an environment in which students develop intellectual maturity, personal conviction, and strength of character, informed by a deep understanding of different cultures and diverse perspectives."

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the travel ban Oct. 10 in the latest development of a legal battle that began in January when the president issued the executive order, also referred to as a "travel ban." Shortly after the travel ban was announced in January, Bucknell President John Bravman informed the campus community that the University had been in contact with its immigration attorney as well as attorneys from other schools.

"The application of such limitations to members of our own community — and of communities across the country — is deeply distressing," Bravman wrote. "We will stand united against acts that impede our commitment to inclusivity and, further, will push for decisions that reflect community and compassion."

Bucknell's admissions staff also wrote to all international students in the applicant pool with a clear message that the University greatly values the presence of international students and that it welcomes them in the campus community.

In addition to Bucknell, colleges and universities that have signed on to the amicus brief include Boston University, Brandeis, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Middlebury, Northeastern, Northwestern, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Tufts, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Vanderbilt and Yale.

In the brief, the schools acknowledge the importance of safety and security, but argue that such concerns can be addressed without thwarting the important benefits of opening campuses to faculty, staff and students from around the globe. According to the schools, "The Order directly threatens amici's ability to attract persons not only from the six specified countries, but from around the world. The Order contradicts the values that American colleges and universities have traditionally touted as benefits of studying and working here, including those of freedom of religion and equality embodied in the First and Fourteenth Amendments."

The institutions further explain to the Court that the damaging effects some of them have already experienced as a result of the executive order, describing instances where prospective international students, who were concerned about the possibility that they might not obtain visas before the start of the fall semester, chose to pursue their education in other countries. The universities also express concern about future applications from international students if the order is permitted to stand, and mention threats from scholars to boycott meetings and conferences hosted in the United States because of the ban.