Letter of support for Muslim members of our community

Many of you will have heard of the terrible news out of Quebec last night, in which six people were killed, others wounded, in a shooting during evening prayers at a Quebec City mosque.

The shootings are an abomination. They are the ultimate in the unreasoning violence that can stem from bigotry. We know that all of us condemn them in the strongest terms.

It is crucially important that we, today and each day, affirm our solidarity with those who are targeted by such actions not because of anything that they have done, but purely and simply because of their faith. Members of the Muslim faith are integral members of this community. They deserve affirmation and support, now above all.

Indeed, we suspect that the Muslim members of our community are feeling especially under siege now, also as a result of the Executive Order that US President Donald Trump signed on Friday banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and the admission of refugees to the United States.

That order has the potential to materially disrupt the lives of students, staff, and faculty of this University – graduate students who are unable to travel to Canada to begin their programs; students or faculty who are unable to participate in teaching programs, conferences, or research that would take them to the United States. It is a blow to the very openness of learning and exchange that is at the heart of what it means to be a University. And, in its indiscriminate impact on people from countries distinguished by their faith, it both proceeds from and reinforces attitudes grounded in bigotry and prejudice. 

We greatly regret that President Trump has taken that step. While it is not our role to comment on all actions that may affect rights, we are committed to doing what we can to ensure that all members of our community understand that they feel welcome, know of available supports, and are able to pursue their educational objectives. Please let us know if you see steps that should be taken. Our Graduate Studies Committee and the Office of the Associate Dean Academic and Student Relations will be considering ways in which it might assist those whose studies have been disrupted.  

You will see a statement from the President of this university issued earlier today here:  http://www.uvic.ca/info/president/statements/quebec-us-order-30jan2017.php.  It eloquently states the values to which universities must be committed and notes resources within the university to which those affected can have recourse. Please remember the resources of the Amicus program, the front office, and the support available for graduate students through the Graduate Program’s administration. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. 

And remember also your own ability to support each other, the values of this university community, and the ideals of the profession to which many of you aspire. These events cannot be permitted to undermine what matters.

Jeremy Webber, Dean

Gillian Calder, Associate Dean, Academic and Student Relations

Freya Kodar, Associate Dean, Administration and Research 

Faculty of Law,

University of Victoria,