Response to Executive Order on Refugee and Immigration Policy

Elissa Tenny | January 30, 2016

Dear SAIC Community,

On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that bars the admission to the United States of Syrian refugees and imposes a 90-day ban on entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We join many of our peers in decrying this action as discriminatory and contrary to our nation’s founding principles.

We firmly believe that our strength is in our diversity. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has a rich history of educating and employing the most talented artists, designers, and scholars, welcoming individuals of all ethnicities and religious affiliations. Approximately one third of our students are from countries outside of the United States, and our students, faculty, and staff are involved in global programs and partnerships. We are proud to have members of our community from all over the world, and we will not alter our practice of seeking out the best students, faculty, and staff, including those hailing from nations targeted by this executive order.

As I shared in my message to you on December 12, SAIC remains committed to a policy of welcoming and supporting students regardless of their citizenship status. As part of this commitment, we do not and will not provide information regarding citizenship status to federal authorities unless compelled to do so by law.

We have a relatively limited number of students who are citizens of the seven designated countries and, as far as we are aware, no faculty or staff from those countries. To the best of our knowledge, these students are in the United States. We are continuing our outreach to students from these countries to offer advisement and resources related to their immigration status.

We will continue to monitor developments closely to ensure that we fully understand how this executive order, and any future orders, may affect SAIC, including the implications for our students, faculty, and staff who are citizens of countries other than the United States. For the present, please see our recommendations below:


  • Whenever you are traveling within the United States, please make sure that you carry with you any immigration documents that prove your legal status.
  • Students with citizenship from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are encouraged to contact Lawrence Rodriguez in International Affairs. He will assist you with resources, including the names of immigration attorneys. This also applies to any students who hold dual citizenship with any country (United States or otherwise) and one of the seven designated countries.
  • All international students with upcoming international travel plans are also encouraged to contact Lawrence Rodriguez.
  • Faculty with questions related to immigration or in need of resources should contact Gretchen Talbot in Office of the Dean of Faculty. Staff with similar inquiries should contact Mike Nicolai in Human Resources.
  • As always, Wellness Center counselors are available to assist our students, and counseling support for faculty and staff is offered through the Employee Assistance Program.

During these challenging times, it is important to remember that art and design have the power to unite rather than to divide, to repair rather than to break, to heal rather than to wound.

With hope,

Elissa Tenny