Editorial Board

Syracuse University chancellor’s condemnation of Trump’s executive order on immigration was sufficient, but should have come sooner

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud’s Wednesday denouncement of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration was a sufficient condemnation of the order, but it was a statement that should have been made weeks ago.

Syverud hesitated on commenting on the Jan. 25 order, which prohibited people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugee admissions for 120 days. The heads of several SU peer institutions openly condemned the ban within days of its announcement. It took Syverud two weeks to say SU did not support the order.

In the statement, Syverud said SU “simply cannot support or abide by any policy that discriminates against, or makes a preference for, one person over the other based on religion, national origin or other inherent characteristics.”

The university has provided services for community members affected by the order, which has been temporarily suspended and marked as an uncertainty for the future. These services include two open house sessions that enabled community members to ask lawyers and Slutzker Center for International Services staff questions about the order and how it would impact them personally. These efforts are admirable and should continue going forward, especially now that Syverud’s condemnation of the order demonstrates that affected community members are being recognized and defended.

Syverud’s statement came after more than 200 frustrated SU community members signed a petition this week calling on the chancellor to speak out against the executive order. Syverud had previously addressed the order but did not publicly condemn it, unlike fellow administrators at SU peer institutions. It’s not a fair call to say that Syverud issued the statement only because he was pressured to do so, for the statement could have been in the works before the petition was issued. But Syverud should have spoken out sooner regardless of the petition, which had 268 signatures as of Wednesday night.

The petition stated that faculty members were “deeply disappointed” in Syverud for not openly condemning Trump’s order and also urged Syverud to “exemplify true moral leadership” as both a head of the university and an educational leader in the Syracuse community, which houses a large immigrant and refugee population.

Syverud’s reasons for hesitating on making a statement about the order are unclear. His reluctance and refusal to name SU a sanctuary campus are understandable on the basis of a sanctuary status affecting federal funding to the university. Still, there’s no threat to say the university opposes Trump’s order and welcomes peoples from the impacted countries.

Kevin Quinn, SU’s senior vice president of public affairs, said in a statement to The Daily Orange that the university hopes Syverud’s statement is “responsive to the petition.” It is. And it’s the condemnation that the SU community both demanded and deserved. But university students, faculty and staff deserved to hear Syverud speak against the order sooner than two weeks after it was issued.

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