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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

A Message From the President

February 1, 2017

Dear Spelman Community,

Colleges and universities all over the country have spoken out overwhelmingly against the recent executive order that restricts international travel, immigration and the entry of refugees into the United States. Spelman, a liberal arts college whose mission is to educate and empower Black women to become global leaders and citizens of the world, stands in fierce solidarity with our fellow higher education institutions.

A 21st century world requires an open, global exchange of ideas, knowledge and culture. Our college completely embraces this ideal as manifest in the goal of sending 100% of our student population abroad to study. Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our learning environment. It has been difficult to grasp how profoundly the executive order contravenes all of these values and principles.

Spelman's 135 years are a long and rich history of Spelmanites, who "undaunted by the fight," have been in the vanguard of challenging and changing laws, policies or practices that breed inequity. Our liberal arts education at Spelman is about honing and sharpening our capacity for critically assessing our world, unearthing facts and shining a light on truth - the groundwork for informed action.

There are any number of strategies that we can engage in as individuals that are fundamental to our role as citizens and that turn our outrage, fear and anger into productive action. Those strategies include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • petitioning your federal representatives;
  • calling your representatives at the federal level to state your point of view;
  • assembling peacefully in protest;
  • hosting a campus conversation around issues;
  • joining advocacy organizations (including those on campus);
  • writing op-eds or blogs;
  • engaging on social media with your views;
  • working with your professors to organize teach-ins;
  • or reaching out to those with differing views to foster an open,constructive dialogue on this, and other national policies.
While we are not aware of any specific or direct impact to the travels or immigration status of any current Spelman students, faculty, or staff, we all feel the collective chill of this executive action to our principles of inclusivity and tolerance and to our role as a global educational institution.

Mindful of the fact that there are students whose families and friends might be impacted by the executive order, the College is offering counseling services to students who may be emotionally impacted by the order and its effects.

Faculty raised a number of questions in yesterday's faculty meeting, including questions around the appropriate use of Spelman's name and logo. I invite you to forward those questions to April Simmons in the Provost's Office (404-270-5031 or so that we can answer each one individually.

We will also circulate under separate cover a description of the policies governing use of Spelman's resources. We will proceed with our plans at the faculty's request to form a small working group to troubleshoot issues for international faculty and a student group that will do the same for students.

As the ground beneath our feet begins to shift, we intend to not only stay alert to the impact on members of our community, but to also provide support to the best of our ability and continue to seek ways in which we can respond effectively.

In the spirit of our mission, I close by sharing a timely poem from Dr. Pushpa Parekh, professor of English and director of our African Diaspora and the World Program.

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
Spelman College

Language of Resistance
by Pushpa Naidu Parekh, Ph.D.

When I let the breeze
dry my words on paper
I enter language

I rope it around my tongue
savor its tartness
its ribbed edges
its slang of desire
its threshold of pain

Today poets silenced
deported from language
refuse the fragility of silence
its cold torpor
and complicities

When storms rage
shredding my words...
The poet in me
creates a refuge
A language of resistance