Following President Trump's Executive Order regarding immigration, Commissioner Santiago asked college and university leadership for information on the campus impact to inform Governor Baker's response to the Department of Homeland Security, which can be read here. A summary of results and a personal statement from the Commissioner can be read below.
I have lived in foreign countries; I have studied abroad; I have chaired academic units specializing in area and ethnic studies; I have overseen offices of international student affairs at major universities; and I have published on topics related to international economic development. I have also led a scholarship organization supporting documented and undocumented Latino students. I believe I understand the hopes and fears of today’s international students. As Commissioner, I believe we must stand together and reassure our students and the communities we serve that our colleges and universities will continue to support them. Additionally, we must affirm and advance the system wide goals of academic freedom and innovation, recognizing that the diversity of our students and scholars is central to that success.
"We must affirm and advance the system wide goals of academic freedom and innovation, recognizing that the diversity of our students and scholars is central to that success" Tweet
Much of my work and interest has been prompted by my belief that the overarching strength of this nation has been, since its founding, that it is a beacon of hope for those fleeing political and religious persecution and seeking the freedom to pursue unlimited opportunities. Despite going through varying periods of openness to immigration contrasted with periods of exclusion, this nation is at its strongest when it welcomes those from abroad as opposed to shunning them. Diversity is, and has always been our greatest strength. We close our borders during periods of weakness and fear and we do so at our own peril. It is not surprising that so many institutions of higher education from across the country have raised a collective objection to what this new ban represents.
Massachusetts higher education is the envy of the world. It is our willingness to be open to people and ideas from across the globe that sets us apart. Our academic traditions reflect the best of our society and are based on the supremacy of reason, science, and empathy. I might add humor to the list—all of which seem to be in short supply these days. In these trying times where reason and science are turned on its head and empathy is mistaken for weakness, we must adhere to our core values if we are to make sense of it all. I am privileged to oversee public universities whose campus leadership lives these core values every day.
"Our academic traditions reflect the best of our society and are based on the supremacy of reason, science, and empathy" Tweet
– Carlos Santiago, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education