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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 28, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Open Letter: Modern languages professors against refugee ban

We, the faculty of Ithaca College’s Department of Modern Languages & Literatures can no longer, and will no longer, remain silent. We declare that we stand together with refugees from all corners of the globe and affirm our commitment to welcoming all immigrants of all nations to this campus and to our country.

As professors we teach a variety of languages, literatures, and cultures. Among these, we count Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin and Spanish. We support several majors and minors and programs including: Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies, Latino/a Studies, Muslim Studies, and Women & Gender Studies.

In the face of growing and bold anti-immigration, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric as well as an executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim majority countries to the United States, we solidly affirm the need to foster peace, diplomacy and, above all, deep, mutual understanding and respect among diverse peoples. This is not only our professional obligation as teachers of languages, literatures, and cultures; it is our duty as humanists who strive to foster authentic compassion and mutual understanding among all peoples. We are further compelled to speak out because the unconstitutional executive order banning refugees was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a significant and ominous detail whose horrific irony was not lost among us. We revere the rule of law, but we cannot tolerate, nor will we tolerate, the targeting of any human being because of their nation of origin, the religion they practice or the language(s) they speak. We declare: no human being is illegal.

We here share our message with the Ithaca College community and we urge all to stand together with us on these issues. A quote attributed to Nelson Mandela reads as follows: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” We now speak with our hearts, standing firm with our students, our staff, our faculty, and our brothers and sisters in the global community who strive for unity over division.

Modern Languages & Literatures Faculty

Silvia Abbiati
David Barry
Skye Clarke
Julia Cozzarelli
Maria DiFrancesco
Marella Feltrin-Morris
Mat Fournier
Enrique Gonzalez-Conty
Annette Levine
Rachel Paparone
Sergio Pedro
Michael Richardson
Benjamin Rifkin
Paula Twomey
Gladys Varona-Lacey
Cecilia Walter