Diversity, Inclusion and Compassion have been embedded in the curriculum and core values of Naropa University since our founding. More than an academic value or abstraction, we commit to supporting and protecting staff, students, faculty and guests of Naropa, especially those who are most likely to be targeted in the name of public policy. This includes those who are part of the 800,000 plus members of the DACA community, some of whom are part of the Naropa family. This commitment is especially important to Naropa as we were founded by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, an accomplished teacher and spiritual leader who himself was forced from his homeland as a result of political persecution, and who was offered a home, first in India, then in the United Kingdom and finally in the United States. The history of contemplative education and the mindfulness movement would be written very differently had Trungpa Rinpoche not been offered sanctuary. It is our duty and our privilege to offer support to new generations of people experiencing their own persecution.
In light of the attempts by the President of the United States and his administration to exclude immigrants and refugees, including members of the Muslim community and undocumented students, we believe it is necessary and timely to denounce those action and to clearly state principles and practices that reinforce our commitment and values. In doing so we join other Universities, churches and municipalities across the United States in solidarity. These practices are drawn from the wisdom, compassion and active engagement of our own Naropa Community, as well as the pioneering work of sister institutions to whom we express gratitude. For clarity, there is no established legal definition of “sanctuary” as it applies to offering a place of safety and refuge. A declaration that Naropa will be called a Sanctuary Campus has no force of law and it is important not to create confusion or inadvertently support assumptions about the impact of such a label on the lives, safety and security of those at risk of becoming the victims of government policies of exclusion.
We believe that what is important is to affirm values and take specific actions which have direct impact on those in our community that we are committed to serving with care. In keeping with those concerns please consider the following statements, re-statements and clarifications.
From these specific actions and concerns Naropa renews its overall mission to advocate for the transformation of dominant and oppressive systems in order to meet our deep commitment of facilitating positive transformation of people and communities. This means committing to shining a light on unequal treatment of immigrants and Muslims, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, disabled and other marginalized persons with whom we are in community with at Naropa, as well as those we each encounter more widely.
Please join with me, in community, to advocate for compassionate and wise public policy and especially to care for one another.
Charles G. Lief