Education

After Trump order, Duke leaders vow not to release student records

Duke’s top administrators issued a statement Sunday calling President Donald Trump’s immigration order “both confusing and disturbing,” and vowed that the university won’t give confidential student records to law enforcement without a subpoena.

“Duke University is committed to, and is greatly enriched by, the open exchange of students, scholars and ideas from all over the globe,” said the statement by Duke University President Richard Brodhead and Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth. “We are deeply concerned about the well-being of students, faculty and staff who may be impacted by the policies that have now been put in place, and will join with the rest of higher education to bring these concerns to the attention of policymakers and the public.”

The restrictions on immigration from seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — have caused havoc at the nation’s airports since Friday. A federal judge in New York temporarily blocked part of Trump’s controversial order Saturday after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit.

Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said students and faculty affected by the order had been seeking answers and clarity from the university on what they should do. Brodhead and Kornbluth said Duke offices had been reaching out to offer guidance and support to faculty and students.

“We are in constant contact with immigration experts, other universities and national associations to understand the implications of the new policies, parts of which have already been successfully challenged in Federal court,” they wrote in the statement, emailed Sunday to faculty, staff and students. “While the circumstances and implementation appear to be changing with great frequency, at this point, we have advised individuals from the affected countries avoid all international travel for the immediate future.”

The executive order, signed Friday by Trump, halts all refugee admissions for 120 days and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. It also severely restricts immigration from seven primarily Muslim countries for 90 days — which could affect many international students and foreign workers who are considered residents of the United States with lawful visas.

Inside Higher Ed, an online publication, reported that more than 17,000 students in the U.S. come from the seven countries listed in the order.

By Sunday afternoon, nearly 5,000 faculty and researchers across the country had signed an online petition saying the executive order is discriminatory, detrimental to national interests and burdensome to university communities. Signers included 35 Nobel laureates.

Proponents and opponents of the ban burned up social media during the weekend as spontaneous protests occurred at large airports around the country. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world - a horrible mess!”

The order has caused particular concerns in the higher education world.

Mary Sue Coleman, former president of University of Michigan and now president of the Association of American Universities, issued a statement Saturday warning that the order puts U.S. universities at a competitive disadvantage in attracting the best students and faculty from around the world.

“We recognize the importance of a strong visa process to our nation’s security,” she wrote. “However, the administration’s new order barring the entry or return of individuals from certain countries is already causing damage and should end as quickly as possible. The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others.”

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill

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