“A Letter to the Haverford Community From the Fake Interim President”
On Monday, The World As It Is and The World As It Should Be met for a brief second and said hello. They took a good look at each other and the World As It Should Be said, “It pains me to look at you- so ugly, hateful, and unfair you are. Why don’t you accept me? Let’s be one in the same.” But The World As It Is decided this was not to be and yelled out, “You are a fraud! How dare you show yourself?! I am The World As It Is, and we are indefinitely separate and different!”
Many in the Haverford community have told me that they were thrilled when they read the email, “Official Apology to the Undocumented American Community” that appeared to come from the Interim President. Many felt that the implementation of admissions equality, which had been anticipated for a year, was long overdue. One Professor responded saying the announcement had renewed his sense of pride in the spirit and mission of Haverford. Others agreed with the announcement that Haverford’s history is “truly shameful” and said it was about time that Haverford stops acting like a country club in the Deep South. Jose, a current undocumented applicant to Haverford, read the email which included a personally apology to him and was overcome by a sensation- a mix of relief, hope, and vindication that he had never felt before.
Unfortunately, the Interim President effectively retracted her apology by siding with the World As It Is. Many administrators and students echoed “Fraud! Lie!” and said that the email had been a breach of trust with the community. One student said she had been harmed because she felt lied to on an issue she cares about. Words like “inappropriate” and “unjustified” were used to express judgment on the obtrusiveness of the unsolicited email or the impersonation of the Interim President. Others expressed that the email was embarrassing and harmful to Haverford and made them feel uncomfortable.
I, Edward Menefee (Sophomore on leave, BMC Sociology major) have reached out to administrators and the Honor Council and claimed full responsibility for the email. I have nothing to hide and will answer any questions or concerns they have as I cooperate fully with their proceedings. I will meet with any administrators or students who felt harmed or uncomfortable by the email (you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org). In general I can say that the email was not intended to deceive or harm anyone, and that I don’t think it did either one. I was surprised and disappointed to see the Senior Staff jump to judgment without having heard my side of what happened. I found it very unhaverfordian. Only the Honor Council can decide if it violated the Honor Code, and I trust that they will do a good job. If Haverford decides to separate me from the community because of this then it is not the community, I thought it was and I no longer wish to be part of it.
Jess Lord and I have met and discussed the admissions policy numerous times for over a year and a half. He has told me that he has never disputed that the admissions process is separate and unequal and that there are no longer any financial concerns with extending fair, need-blind admissions to undocumented applicants. He has no financial concerns because he knows that giving undocumented admits the same financial aid package that a high need documented applicant would receive would keep HC’s costs the same. Any concerns about legality are and always have been bogus- thousands of undocumented students go to public and private colleges every year and in every state- and any talk of lingering concerns about financial costs are admittedly insincere.
Morally, the question has always been decided. While I doubt my email violated the Honor Code, I have no doubt that Haverford’s policy, which effectively bans undocumented students, and continued inaction are unjust and violate the very core of the Honor Code and the Haverfordian spirit. Moreover, the ban is harmful- its hurts people. Haverford maintains a structure of violence that inflicts pain, hardships, and limited outcomes on people like Jose and many others whose homes, families, lives, coursework, and futures are in this country. Usually their stories and their suffering remain silent. On most days at Haverford, the structural violence remains invisible and goes unnoticed as documented students go to class and documented administrators retire to their warm homes at five.
I have told Jess Lord that silence, inaction, and invisibility will not continue. I have told him that if Haverford is proud of its policy then it should promote it, if it is ashamed of its policy then it should change it, but it will no longer be able to hide it.
Far from a lie, I think the announcement was honest. Sure it was fantasy or theater, but fantasy can contain a lot of truths; whereas silence is part of Haverford’s structural violence. Silence is not a naturally occurring, neutral, passive emptiness. It is an actively created existence that oppresses people and hides uncomfortable truths like the fact that we’re all the same yet some people are being hurt. Moreover, silence is a lie itself. It is not an honest look at the World As It Is because for many of the privileged it falsely conveys a sense normalcy and adequacy of the status quo. Yet we who are privileged to be documented Americans and have been admitted to Haverford cannot separate ourselves from Haverford’s policy and the violence being inflicted on Jose and his community.
“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” --Ginetta Sagan
Haverford’s pattern of actions- and indeed, strategy- has always been to be silent on this issue. Haverford’s historic plenary vote was featured on the front page of the USA Today but was not mentioned on Haverford’s website or publications. On the rare occasion, an administrator has mentioned in an email or an interview a sentence of two saying, “We’re looking at it. We have financial concerns.” I’ve met with Jess Lord and Joanne Creighton and both have told me that they do not know any undocumented person and do not know of any possibility for an undocumented voice to help inform Haverford’s decision. Neither of them would agree to testify as part of a Haverford Truth & Reconciliation Committee (HTRC) that would also accept testimony from undocumented Tri-co and high school students. Despite that they’ve been looking at this issue for a year (behind closed doors with no timeline or report offered), no administrator has bothered to talk with a single undocumented American. Next week, Fords for Immigrant Justice will begin collecting testimony (in the form of youtube videos) and committee member applications for the HTRC which will be open to the public on Haverford.eu- “where we take the D out of Haverford’s edu.” D for discrimination.
The announcement was an honest look at the World As It Should Be. It included Jose’s undocumented voice and the self-evident truths embedded in his story. Far from a lie, this email upheld the true spirit of the Honor Code and of the Haverford community. I hope the Interim President will reconsider her decision. I urge her to copy and paste my email above her signature and to send it back out to the student body immediately. If she has doubts, I urge her to call Jose and ask him what he thinks is the right thing to do.