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February 2, 2017: President Patton Address: Muslim Student Association Rally

February 2, 2017

Welcome Middlebury community, the college, and the town.

So many different people from so many different parts of Middlebury are here today and that warms my heart. We are all here in solidarity with the Muslim Students Association (MSA). As the MSA knows and has worked so hard to teach us, and as we should all continue to learn, an educational community is deeply strengthened by the open exchange of ideas. In that open exchange of ideas we explore, we ask questions, we criticize. Today we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters because there are individuals who can no longer participate in that exchange because they are prohibited by policy from entering our country, and if they are already here, they are forced not to leave it. We must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in resisting this state of affairs. Education is about dignity and respect, and this ban is about neither. No one should have to choose between family and work, which is what so many, including some of our own, will now have to choose between. No one should have to see their family turned away at the borders, simply because of their country of origin.

The Quran itself teaches in Surat al-Mumtahana 8, that “God loves those who are just.”

And James Baldwin taught us "Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed that is not faced.”

Let us face and change this injustice. If we do nothing else with our educations, if we do nothing more for our students, our teachers, our friends, and family, let us work for a more just world now. Do one thing every day to make our world more open and free—to make education live up to its deepest values and to resist the injustice we suddenly see visited upon us. I want to ask you to repeat with me because it is so true more than ever now. We, with our Muslim brothers and sisters—we are all Middlebury.

Thank you.

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