Related: Catholic issues, Civil & Human Rights, Political Issues, Politics, Religion, Sisters of Notre Dame, Social Issues, Social Justice Issues

Trinity Stands for Justice


Dulles-1(Protesters greeting international travelers at Dulles Airport on January 28 photo credit here)

Concerning the executive order banning immigrants and refugees from certain countries and Muslims, I sent this statement by email to the Trinity community this morning:

Dear students and colleagues,

Like you, I have followed the news during the last week, and especially the last 24 hours with a mixture of astonishment, horror and sheer outrage. Executive orders and policies that discriminate against and cause positive harm to individuals based on their national origin or religion have no place in a country that claims to be the leader of the free world.  What the president of the United States is doing is an offense against our moral values, against any reasonable idea of social justice, and lawyers and judges will most likely prove these actions to be illegal and unconstitutional as well.  Pope Francis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, numerous individual bishops and religious leaders of all faiths have condemned the president’s orders that ban and threaten to deport refugees and immigrants from certain countries.  Courageous judges have issued stays and temporary injunctions against the executive order on immigration, but sadly, many people already en route are trapped in a grotesque Kafkaesque nightmare of airport detention, interrogation, deprivation of basic human needs like restrooms and water, and shameful treatment by our own federal agents.  Any notion that this executive order will make our nation safer is preposterous; in fact, this action inflames all those already disposed to hatred, and encourages previously neutral citizens of the world to move against the United States.

I join the Pope, Bishops, religious and academic leaders who have condemned the immigration ban and detainment of persons trying to enter this country, the specific ban on Muslims and persons from select countries, and in particular, the bar to Syrian refugees who are people in grave danger and suffering mightily.  We cannot possibly say we will protect our own security at the expense of human rights for others.  In the end, our own rights and liberties are also in grave danger.

For 120 years, Trinity has proclaimed a mission rooted in the Catholic faith teachings on Gospel social justice.  These teachings demand respect for human life and dignity, solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need, responsible participation in civic life, and service to the most vulnerable in our society who are impoverished and oppressed.  Social justice demands that we not remain silent in the face of immoral political actions.  The Sisters of Notre Dame who founded Trinity and who still impart their moral influence to us would expect no less than our vigorous defense of social justice principles in the current time.

Our care for those who are suffering starts right here.  If you or a member of your family or friends is affected right now by the executive order on travel and immigration, please let me know if you or they need help and we will do what we can to get you help.

As I have stated previously, you are welcome at Trinity and we  will care for you and protect you whatever your immigration status, whatever your religion or national origin or language or personal situation.  If you are undocumented, you are welcome here and we will do everything possible to stand up for our Trinity Dreamers.  If you are Muslim, you are welcome here and we will defend your right to express your religion freely and without fear.  If you are from one of the targeted countries, you are welcome here and we will do all that we can to ensure your safety.  If you have a green card, you are welcome here and we will stand with you in the face of any threats.

We don’t know what will happen in the days to come.  As a lawyer by training, I have to believe that the great strength of the American legal system is its ability to confront and stop tyranny.  Remember that the Supreme Court ultimately shattered segregation and protected civil rights, and the same Supreme Court forced an authoritarian president — Richard Nixon — to turn over the Watergate tapes that led to his resignation.  The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld many other human rights.  Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Title VII protecting women’s rights, and more.  Despite the worrisome political climate and efforts to manipulate the legal system by blocking judicial appointments, in the end the law must prevail.

We are a strong and confident community at Trinity.  We have seen difficult times before, and at each challenge we grow stronger and more determined to be a voice for what is right and just.  Our most important work is to educate students who can be leaders of principle and moral value in the larger community.  We do this always with a prayer for the grace and courage to remain strong.

I welcome your comments in the box below, or send them to me on email

With thanks for your great commitment to Trinity’s mission in social justice,

President Pat McGuire

Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrez

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18 Responses to Trinity Stands for Justice

  1. Pingback: Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity Washington University, to Receive the Robert M. Holstein Faith Doing Justice Award | Ignatian Solidarity Network

  2. Scott Gilbert says:

    What a bunch of whiny nonsense. The ban is temporary. It is similar to other temporary bans implemented by Obama. Grow a pair, lady!

  3. Emily M. Herbst, '76 says:

    Thank you, Pat, for eloquently and courageously speaking out on this subject. I, too, am proud to be a Trinity Alumna.

  4. Daughter of Liz Farrell '52 says:

    My mother passed away in 2009, but she was always grateful for her Trinity College education. She was an economics major. I think she would be enormously proud of the school today.

  5. Sharon Raimo 1969 says:

    Pat, I support you 100% Your gracious words are a balm to many who are frightened and uncertain. This has little to do with politics and everything to do with what it means to be a human being. Thank you



  7. Jane Farrell DeCoursey says:

    Thank you, Pat, for walking the walking.

    Jane Farrell DeCoursey
    Class of 1987

  8. Carlota Ocampo says:

    President McGuire,
    As Trinity’s Provost and a member of the university community since 1997, I have long been inspired by Trinity’s social justice mission. “Trinity’s moral compass always points true North”, a colleague once said to me. This core principle has never been more evident than today. The Academic Affairs community is aghast at the actions of this administration – actions that abrogate the human rights we cherish and that threaten the well-being and safety of so many. THANK YOU for your leadership, clear vision, and continued commitment to justice, especially now when strong leadership is essential. Your words make us proud to be Trinity.

  9. Donald E. Byrne, Jr. says:

    My wife, Mary Anne Tietjen (d.2001), who was class president c.1963 and led a protest that year or the year before, would have strongly supported you, Pat, and Trinity’s prophetic stance.

  10. Ellen Kennedy says:

    President McGuire has taken the moral high ground. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, took this same position last week. So has Yale. “Be ever blessed and thanked and praised” Thank you Trinity!

  11. Frances Tietjen '68 says:

    I’m especially proud to be a Trinity graduate today. Pat, thank you for your powerful statement.
    Class of ’68

  12. Gretchen J. Van Dyke, Ph.D., Class of 1983 says:

    Thank you, Pat, for a thoughtful and powerful letter. I remain a proud Trinity graduate and continue to credit our beloved institution for a valuable educational foundation for my understanding of politics, both domestic and international. I also will never forget that the SNDs and their companions founded Trinity to educate women (and today some men as well!) for the purpose of social justice. Know that I will always treasure that commitment and our collective experience in that mission.

  13. Kelly Quinn, Class of 1991 says:

    Thank you Pat for your strong, decisive leadership. This entry is the most powerful statement authored by a university president on this subject. Thank you. Thank you for continuing to devote your careeer to the education of women and men.

    May all of our alumnae read and be moved by your example. Your words reflect my sentiment. Your words reflect my outrage and astonishment. Your words reflect my hope for safety and compassion for all.

  14. Maribeth Flynn says:

    Thank you, Pat, for your unwavering commitment to justice for all, especially women. Your leadership, like our democracy, cannot be taken for granted.

  15. Marianne Horstmann English says:

    Such a wonderful letter Pat. Thank you.

  16. Kathleen Talty says:

    Thank you, Pat, for your wonderful statement, representing the values of our church.
    Class of 1975

  17. Robin Spence Costa says:

    Thank you Pat for your strong words in support of refugees and immigrants. Robin Costa’65

  18. Joyce Fahy-Laundre says:

    Thank you Pat for your eloquent words and for your invitation to those in need. I support your efforts!
    Class of 1974

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: