Affirmation of inclusion, tolerance, social justice

On March 1, 2017, staff of several departments sent a letter affirming the support by their offices of the principles of inclusion, tolerance, and social justice. Read the letter from Joanne K. Reeck, Chief Diversity Officer; Sonja Hagander, College Pastor; and Michael Grewe, Director of LGBTQIA Services.

Text of Letter to Augsburg Community

Dear Augsburg Community,

In Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow’s January statement in response to the Presidential Executive Orders on immigration, he wrote to affirm Augsburg’s “commitment to provide a safe learning and working environment with equitable access to education for all members of our campus community.” Today, we ask the Augsburg community to remember this and take heart in the knowledge that we have not and will not abandon this commitment.

Recently there have been several disturbing events that have taken place across our nation and locally in our own backyard, and as a College, we wish to address them.

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Commitment to Equity, Inclusion for Transgender Students

On February 23, 2017, Augsburg College’s Mike Grewe sent a letter reiterating the support by Augsburg College of equity and inclusion for transgender students. The text of the letter by Grewe, who is Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) Student Services and Assistant Director, Campus Activities and Orientation, is below. Augsburg College is deeply committed to social justice and human rights and remains committed to inclusion and equity for transgender students.

Text of Letter to Augsburg Community

Dear Augsburg Community,

As many of you are aware, yesterday the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice withdrew support for their “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students” from May 2016.  This letter stated that discrimination against transgender individuals was covered under Title IX protections regarding sex non-discrimination in higher education.  The letter also gave guidance around how to provide support for transgender students, both within K-12 settings and within higher education.

I’m emailing to let you know that the federal government’s decision to withdraw it’s support for federal transgender non-discrimination protection does not impact Augsburg’s commitment to providing a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students here.  Augsburg’s non-discrimination statement includes gender identity and gender expression, and as a “Reconciling in Christ” institution within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Augsburg affirms and welcomes LGBTQIA-identified individuals.

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Statement in response to Presidential Executive Orders

On Monday, January 30, Augsburg College President Paul C. Pribbenow and Provost Karen Kaivola issued a statement of support to College students, faculty, and staff about recent executive orders issued by President Donald J. Trump related to immigration and to undocumented/DACA students.

“We do not accept the intolerance which the new immigration policies promote. Augsburg’s history is rich with the contribution of individuals who came to America; indeed, founded by Norwegian immigrants, Augsburg has an immigrant sensibility and will stand firm in the face of threats to our community and our immigrant neighbors,” wrote the President and Provost.

“We will double down on our commitments to hospitality and justice, to supporting our students’ success and to keeping them safe. We will advocate at the state and federal level for policies that support all of our students.”

Read “Statement: President Pribbenow, Provost Kaivola on executive orders by President Donald J. Trump” on the News and Media site.

Actions: Week Following Presidential Election

Since the election of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Augsburg College has been monitoring actions of the Trump Administration and communicating with students, faculty, and staff. Actions taken by Augsburg during the week of Nov. 16 included:

  • President Paul C. Pribbenow sent an email the day after the election calling on all Auggies to be gentle and generous with each other even as we challenge each other to live up to our highest aspirations of educating students (and each other) to be “informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.”
  • In Chapel on November 21, Associate Professor and Chair of the History Department Michael Lansing shared reflections about the election in his address, “Faith and Politics, Post-Election.”
  • A student-led discussion was held on November 21 in the Student Lounge that same evening, facilitated by Augsburg Day Student Government President Abe Johnson ’18 and Vice President Mariam Fawzy ’18.
  • The week of November 28, Provost Karen Kaivola sent a message about teaching in difficult times and that offered support for faculty and students through the final weeks of this winter semester.
  • President Pribbenow sent a letter to our DACA and undocumented students underscoring our commitment to making an Augsburg education available to learners of all backgrounds, without regard to national or ethnic origin.
  • Augsburg College signed a public statement in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and our undocumented students, endorsed by more than 90 colleges and universities across the nation. And we were among the first of more than 160 colleges and universities to sign a letter calling on President-elect Donald Trump to take a more vigorous stand against harassment, hate and acts of violence.