The following was sent on January 31, 2017, by interim President Chris Kevorkian to the Cornish College of the Arts community. In a typical academic year, the college has students from more than a dozen countries on campus. In the last few years, students have come from Bermuda, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, and Thailand, among others.
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Trustees, and other members of our community,
I write to you today in regards to the President's recent executive order on immigration.
Cornish College of the Arts is a welcoming and inclusive community in which there are immigrants or individuals who come from immigrant or refugee families. Some of you have shared with me your fears, concerns about safety, and feelings of uncertainty. I want to assure all of you that the college remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure that we provide a diverse, open, accepting, and inclusive environment in which all may work, live, teach, study, learn, and play.
I am profoundly concerned about the recent executive order and its impact on our community, which possibly prohibits our students, faculty, staff, and others from being able to enter or return to the United States. While the security of the nation’s visa system is essential, this executive order is contrary to core American values and those of Cornish College, which is dedicated to the education of artists, citizens, and innovators.
Cornish College, like universities and colleges across this great nation of immigrants, is enriched by the contributions of its diverse students, faculty, and staff. We are committed to supporting all members of our community who are impacted by this executive action. We support our international and immigrant students and employees, and those who may be undocumented. The safety and well-being of our students remains our first priority.
Students concerned about their immigration status, please see Jerry Hekkel, Dean of Student Life, for help. Lori Koshork and Student Counseling are available to assist and have already sent messages to students.
Confusion and uncertainty remain about the executive order and the legal implications of its enforcement have been questioned in several cities and states. This situation is fluid and evolving rapidly. Together, the leadership team and I will continue to monitor developments and assist affected individuals as much as possible. I will update the community as needed to ensure that students, faculty, and staff know how to obtain help.
The United States is a country built on the highest principles by immigrants from all continents. No other country feeds imagination, inspires inventiveness and innovation, or drives creativity among a more diverse community of cultures than the USA. It is that richness of diversity that has been a significant contributor to the success of our great American democratic experiment.
The arts and artists have historically provided a home for the disenfranchised, disaffected, and those seeking refuge or escape. Our Cornish College community is a great exemplar of these values.
As Artists, Innovators, and Citizens, we are asked to remain open to people, ideas, perspectives, and cultures from across the world that inspire and challenge our creativity.
Our diversity makes us stronger and better equipped to respond to the complex and the unexpected. We all thrive in a multicultural, multiracial, and interconnected world.
Seattle is a sanctuary city and known for supporting diversity of all kinds. There will certainly be events occurring to allow exercise of First Amendment rights. Should you choose to participate, please do so peaceably and, for your safety, with a partner.
Cornish College of the Arts