MADISON, Wis. – A state Senator took aim Monday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for a politically charged message sent to thousands of students, faculty and staff.
Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said multiple constituents alerted him to an email sent from UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow and other senior administration staff regarding President Donald Trump’s recent immigration policy executive orders.
“The email condemns our President for the policy he believes will keep Americans safe,” Stroebel said.
Stroebel represent Senate District 20 in southeast Wisconsin. UW-La Crosse is not in Stroebel’s district.
Trump’s order sparked a firestorm of protests and stranded travelers around the world. It bars refugees from anywhere in the world from entering the United States for 120 days. Syrian refugees are prohibited indefinitely. And the order keeps out for 90 days travelers from the terrorism-sponsoring nations of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that Trump is doing what he promised he would do on the campaign trail: pause entry of individuals from countries where terrorism thrives until the federal government gets a handle on its problem-ridden vetting procedures.
“We’re not willing to be wrong on this subject,” said the Kenosha native. “President Trump is not willing to take chances on this subject.”
Stroebel said Gow’s email to students, faculty, staff and retirees makes no reference to the seven countries that either sponsor terrorism or harbor terrorist training facilities.
“At the end of the day, I support broadening the education possibilities for citizens from around the world at the University of Wisconsin System Schools regardless of country of origin or religious beliefs,” the senator said. “Nonetheless, senior administration staff should not take public opinions on policy with the intent to influence the view of students. After all, a plurality of Wisconsinites voted for the current administration.”
In November, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win the Badger State since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Gow could not be reached for comment Monday evening, but he did respond to Stroebel’s request for information. The chancellor estimates the email went out to as many as 13,000 people. In the email Gow said that, “except where required by law, UWL police do not assist in immigration enforcement or deportation of any individual, and do not inquire about or record immigration status when performing their duties.”
Here is Gow’s message:
Dear students and colleagues:
Like so many of you, the UWL leadership team and I are shocked and saddened by President Donald Trump’s order prohibiting refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Here at UWL we do not discriminate based on a person’s religion or country of origin, and it is very troubling to see the leader of our country doing exactly that.
At such an unsettling time, we are writing to reaffirm our University’s commitment to support our international students, faculty, and staff, and our commitment to the values of international collaboration and engagement. Our students, faculty, and staff from around the world are an integral part of our campus community, and play a crucial role in our educational mission.
Likewise, we want to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring a safe and inclusive campus environment for all individuals, regardless of their national origin, citizenship/immigration status, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability and other significant aspects of individual and cultural identity.
And we also want to let you know that our university will maintain the privacy of information about the citizenship/immigration status of all individuals, except where required by law or authorized by the individual. Please know that, except where required by law, UWL Police do not assist in immigration enforcement or deportation of any individual, and do not inquire about or record immigration status when performing their duties.
We will continue to monitor developments and do our best to provide guidance and support to affected individuals and the university offices providing relevant services to them. Our Offices of International Education and Engagement, Human Resources, and Counseling Services are available for those needing various kinds of support.