In the wake of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the seven presidents of the University of Maine System and the president of the University of New England released statements on Tuesday affirming their support for diversity and an inclusive campus community.

“We embrace all of our students, no matter what religion they practice, how diverse their perspectives, where they come from, or how long they have lived here,” read the UMS presidents’ statement, which did not directly reference the president’s order. “We value the principles and promise of our democracy and the ideal of liberty where the opportunity to better yourself and your family through education should be considered sacrosanct.”

The statement by UNE President Danielle Ripich said that although the university has no current students from the seven countries targeted in Trump’s order, thousands of students from overseas study in American universities.

“It would be unfair to them and to our values if they are denied entry on the basis of their religious background or ethnicity,” she wrote. “The constitutionality of this order is being challenged on many levels and the courts will decide if it prevails. In the meantime, we remain committed to our policy of nondiscrimination that is a bedrock value of our democracy.”

Trump’s order suspends immigration for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – for 90 days, and imposes an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. Some higher-education leaders have denounced the ban and advised their students and faculty from the seven countries to delay any travel.

In Maine, some of the strongest language against the president’s order came from small private colleges, including Bates, Bowdoin and Colby. Public universities are in a more delicate situation politically, particularly those with Republican governors or legislatures, since a portion of their funding comes from the state.


“We are appalled by the executive order and the inhumane manner in which it is being implemented,” Bates President Clayton Spencer said in a statement. “The order flies in the face of fundamental American values, and it is particularly threatening to international students and faculty, as well as individuals from recent immigrant families.”

College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins wrote a message to the campus community on Monday, saying: “The current administration’s policy shift on immigration and immigrant communities is inhumane and will be the subject of intense scrutiny over the next months. It is also mercurial and therefore difficult for us to respond to through policy.”

Collins said College of the Atlantic does not currently have students from any of the seven banned countries, but has had them in the past. He noted that the school draws its students, staff and community from 43 countries and said he is contacting other colleges in Maine and beyond to “see what kind of collective action we might be able to take.”

The UMaine System board of trustees, all appointed by the governor, met Monday but did not take any action or release any statement related to the immigration order, spokesman Dan Demeritt said.

Across the nation, other institutions of higher learning also responded to the ban, some criticizing it outright, while others advised students and faculty from the seven countries not to travel for the next 90 days.

The move comes as universities nationwide are actively recruiting international students to boost enrollment. In Maine, the university system has 572 international students, representing about 2 percent of the seven-campus student population.


UMaine System officials said they were not aware of any students immediately affected by the temporary immigration ban, but a fall 2016 enrollment report shows that UMaine has 13 students from Iran. The enrollment report shows only countries that have at least 10 students enrolled in the UMaine System; the other six countries named in Trump’s executive order are not listed.

Several Maine schools said they would not release any information about specific students or employees who might be affected by the order.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine

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