After Monday's letter to students and staff calling Donald Trump's travel ban of seven Muslim countries "very troubling", Chancellor Joe Gow is walking back some of those statements.
Gow sent off another email Wednesday saying the response was the most he'd seen in his 10 years at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Gow's statement can be read below, followed by an updated statement from UW-L.
Dear students and colleagues:
On Monday, I sent all of you an e-mail message which has generated a response unlike anything I've seen during the 10 years I've been privileged to serve as our university's chancellor. And through the responses I've received I've come to realize that I erred in not writing the original message more thoughtfully. In particular, I wrote an opening paragraph that appears to have stifled discussion, rather than promoted it. That opening paragraph also should not have given the appearance that our university is taking a particular side in a political debate. Of course, all of you are free to do that; but as chancellor I am bound to represent our institution in a politically-neutral fashion. I hope you'll please forgive me for not being more careful about this.
With the exception of the initial paragraph, I stand by the remainder of the original message and am proud to say UWL remains firmly committed to the principles it outlines. Non-discrimination and internationalization remain at the core of our mission.
I know there are no "do-overs" in public life, a realm in which the diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand once observed, "A blunder is worse than a crime," but if you can forgive my mistake I hope you'll accept the updated statement included below.
Thanks to so many of you for taking the time to write to me about this very important issue. I regret that I'm not able to respond personally to you all. But, as I hope you'll realize, your messages have a great impact on my thoughts and actions. Even though I've been in my UWL chancellor role for ten years, I'm still learning, and I'm deeply grateful for your assistance in this process.
Joe Gow, Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
UW-L UPDATED STATEMENT
It's sent ripples around the world, President Donald Trump's refugee and immigration ban.
Even at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, leadership has taken a stand against the ban.
UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow sent a letter to students, faculty and staff Monday afternoon, decrying Trump's temporary ban on traveling to the U.S. from seven countries.
Gow said he felt the letter was necessary.
"Because we don't discriminate based on their religion or their country of national origin," Gow said, "I want to point out how troubling it is the president is doing that very thing, and remind our students how committed we are to internationalization."
Like the ban itself, the letter is being viewed as controversial.
"It has divided the campus," Gow said. "There's a lot of support from my message. There (were) also some people who are critical, who think I sholdn't have put that out. And that's good we have that dialogue."
Gow says he hopes the travel ban doesn't discourage international studying, either by Americans going to those countries or foreign students coming to the states.
The letter can be read below or go here to view it on Facebook and comment.
Administrative statement on President Trump's Immigration and Refugee Ban
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-LA CROSSE·MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2017
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.
Joe Gow, Chancellor
Nizam Arain, Director of Affirmative Action
Bob Hetzel, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance
Paula Knudson, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Betsy Morgan, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Greg Reichert, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement