Vanderbilt calls for Supreme Court to strike down travel ban

Vanderbilt University today joined 30 universities calling on the Supreme Court to strike down President Trump’s travel ban. This reflects Vanderbilt’s commitment to an inclusive campus environment that attracts talented individuals from around the world to learn from each other and work together to discover the solutions to societal problems.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the ban Oct. 10 in the latest development of a legal battle that began in January when Trump issued an Executive Order intended to block refugees and citizens from six countries from entering the United States.

Vanderbilt has previously voiced its opposition to the ban and Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos has said the Order “does material harm to our ability to attract and recruit the very best scholars from around the world.” The university has joined some of the nation’s top universities to file a joint Amicus Brief urging the Court to strike down the Executive Order.

“[rquote]World class academics and cutting edge research critically rely on campus environments that are welcoming and rich in their diversity of viewpoints.[/rquote] At Vanderbilt, we’re making that environment a reality – this travel ban would hamper those efforts here and across the country. It is vital to this nation’s future that we continue to recognize the strength and value of embracing diversity and inclusion,” Zeppos said regarding Vanderbilt’s participation in the latest Amicus Brief.

In addition to Vanderbilt, universities that have signed on to the Amicus Brief include Boston, Brandeis, Brown, Bucknell, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Northeastern, Northwestern, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Tufts, The University of Chicago, The University of Michigan, The University of Pennsylvania, The University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale. Middlebury College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute also signed the brief.

Vanderbilt and the other universities and colleges joining the brief argue to the Court that, “The Order directly threatens amici’s ability to attract persons not only from the six specified countries, but from around the world. The Order contradicts the values that American colleges and universities have traditionally touted as benefits of studying and working here, including those of freedom of religion and equality embodied in the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

The institutions further explain to the Court, the damaging effects some of them have already experienced as a result of the executive order, describing instances where prospective international students, who were concerned about the possibility that they might not obtain visas before the start of the fall semester, chose to pursue their education in other countries. The universities also express concern about future applications from international students if the order is permitted to stand, and mention threats from scholars to boycott meetings and conferences hosted in the United States because of the ban.

“[lquote]Some of our most exciting research and discoveries are fueled by partnerships with international researchers.[/lquote] The higher education community is already starting to see a chilling effect despite the partial stay by the Supreme Court, but upholding the ban will close the door to cross-cultural collaborations that have positive, real-world implications for all of our nations,” Susan R. Wente, Vanderbilt provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said.

Vanderbilt has signed multiple letters with peer institutions and higher education organizations and continues to provide support for current students, faculty and staff who may be affected by the Executive Order. A full listing of the university’s actions and information related to immigration and refugees is available on the Office of the Provost’s website