In response to last week’s executive orders by President Donald Trump on immigrants and persons from foreign countries traveling to the United States, one of which placed a 90-day ban on individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and an indefinite ban on individuals from Syria, administration met with students, faculty and staff Monday.
“These are confusing, fast moving times,” Michael New, Vice President of Human Resources and Administrative Services told the gathering. “We’re trying to do the best we can. We’re looking at this [meeting] as a first step.”
Approximately 50 St. Michael’s college students, faculty, and staff gathered in St. Eddie’s lounge in Alliot Hall for an information meeting on how Trump’s executive orders towards individuals from foreign countries may impact members of the St. Michael’s community. Sandy Strempel, an immigration lawyer for the college, and Susan Sussman, a caseworker for Senator Patrick Leahy, also spoke to the group about Trump’s most recent EO on immigration.
“Our goal today is to get the latest update about what we know about this executive order and to create a safe space for students and employees who have specific questions about their situation,” New said.
The executive orders concern not only international students and faculty uneasy about travel and visa requirements, but puts stress on individuals who are concerned about their families and friends being impacted by these proceedings.
“If you don’t need to travel, really, don’t. Even internally,” Moise St. Louis, associate dean of students & director of multicultural student services advised all international students at the gathering.
Currently, there are no St. Michael’s students within the named countries, said Peggy Imai, director of the study abroad program, “but I don’t think anybody can assume that they are not impacted because people have friends or relatives or any number of connections to the communities that this impacted. There’s a lot of turmoil and a lot of angst and a lot of fear. It’s unnecessary. What they’re attempting to do makes sense but the manner in which it’s happening is not ideal.”
“As an immigrant person,” St. Louis told those present at the information session, “I know a lot of people are concerned because the real gist of it is if you are brown and you come from a specific part of the world, there are going to be more stringent processes. Even when it’s not stated, folks are concerned.”
St. Louis went on to state that the student affairs offices would do their best to support and inform students who were impacted by these events.
“The meeting was called today to make sure that our students, our faculty, our staff is aware that the college is supportive of all of our members and that we want to provide resources to them should they need them,” Patrick Gallivan, vice president for community and government affairs and secretary of the board of trustees at St. Michael’s, told The Defender.
Outside the informational meeting in St. Eddie’s lounge, a cluster of students and Patti Delaney, chair sociology and anthropology department, held signs with slogans supporting the college’s international community. “We’re here to show that we want international members of our community to know that they’re welcome, that they’re an important part of this community, and that we will stand in solidarity with them,” Delaney said.