WU-AAUP Statement on Recognizing and Resisting Threats to Humane Values
The Willamette University Advocacy Chapter of the American Association of University Professors endorses the positions taken by our national organization on the November 2016 election and against the January Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from entering the United States.
We applaud the work of our students, colleagues, and community members who have been providing information, resources, and support to those under threat from the actions of the current US administration and its allies.
This work began before the President’s Executive Order to exclude from the US all people from selected countries, and continues after a court injunction barring enforcement of that order. The current US administration has moved in authoritarian ways to promote policies of exclusion that formalize and normalize racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. It has shown disregard for the value of scientific evidence and expertise, for the separation of powers and the role of the Constitution, for traditions of transparency and problems arising from conflicts of interest; for the possibilities of human rights and the benefits of diplomacy; and ultimately for the well-being of the nation and the planet.
As scholars, intellectuals, and educators, endorsing principles of academic freedom, we denounce threats to our nation's constitutional and legal protections, and we object to discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin. With our students, we reaffirm the commitment "cemented into the very structure of our University" in the inscription "Education Finds Fulfillment in Compassion." We call on all members of the Willamette University community to join us in recognizing and standing against threats to humane values, and we call on each other to hold us to our promise to pursue in solidarity a more just future.
As a community, we must learn from the past. Willamette University was founded 175 years ago by missionaries lacking in fundamental respect for the complex cultures of the Native peoples whom the newcomers sought to convert to their own beliefs. In the twenty-first century, the university has belatedly begun to acknowledge and attempt to redress some of these past injustices, to partner with and to learn from local Native organizations.
During World War II, an Executive Order, for which the US Government has since apologized and paid reparations, led to the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, including ten Willamette University students. Like the vast majority of its peer institutions, Willamette failed to speak out against the order, and, again like its peers with similar histories, only came in the twenty-first century to publically acknowledge this episode, by inviting the relocated students back to campus on the occasion of the dedication of a marker in remembrance of their experience.
Rather than accept further injustices to be followed by future regrets, we pledge to do all that we can in the present to resist discrimination against vulnerable groups, including immigrants, Muslims, and others similarly targeted.
We condemn inhumane and unjust actions whether they come from private groups or individuals or, more dangerously, from official agencies under the guise of national security.
We stand together in the interest of building a more diverse and inclusive community; in the interest of providing an equitable and welcoming educational environment in which all can freely and safely learn, discuss, debate, and grow; in the interest of promoting higher education as a common good, accessible to all; in the interest of free expression and the pursuit of scientific knowledge, artistic creation, and humane inquiry.