By Greg Allen
Donald Trump has been President of The United States of America for less than two weeks, but he has taken no time making changes. Most recently, Trump has signed an executive order that restricts immigration into the United States from seven countries. The nations banned from coming to America are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen–all nations with high Muslim populations.
Many people were pleased to hear that Trump signed the executive order. Trump gained a great deal of supporters due to his desire to tighten America’s borders. This is the first step in doing so. However, many others were up in arms. Protests broke out in airports across the nation, as millions believe that this order is unfair and selfish, as it will take away the opportunity for refugees to live safely.
Ben Ryan, a junior at Springfield said, “I think Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ is pretty pathetic, and I really don’t see how it will make our country safer. Immigrants and refugees are just as important as anyone else who lives in this country.”
However, the order does not just affect refugees. It affects millions of individuals, many of whom could be college students sitting across from you in Locklin Hall. According to Springfield College International Center Director Deb Alm, the college does not have any students from the seven countries on Trump’s list. However, Alm is aware that there may be international students with friends, colleagues, or family members who are from those countries.
“My first inclination was to reach out to our international students and let them know that we are on their side and open for business here,” Alm said. “I let them know that if they have any concerns, there a number of support services on campus.”
It is also important to realize that there may be international students at the college who do not connect with the International Center. Springfield College’s International Center only sees students holding visas. Therefore, the center is only aware of the students who are traveling on visas.
“We very well could have faculty members, students, or other community members who may be refugees or have other status that does not come through my office. That’s why I feel it was so important for Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper to make a statement like she did.”
The statement that Alm is referring to is a statement that was sent out to the entire campus via email. Alm said that the statement was “sensitive and well-written.”
A piece of Cooper’s message read, “Our commitment to our international students, scholars, faculty and staff is unwavering. If you are a member of our international community, I want you to know that we value you, we are here for you, and we will do everything within the law to support and advocate for you as valued members of our whole community.”
Alm has been in contact with a number of colleges within the region. She has spoken with UMass, Smith, and Clark among others to see what they have been doing as institutions to inform and support international students. There are students at other schools within the region who are from the seven countries on Trump’s list.
Alm said that the schools have been “checking in to see if they have any students in transit who may have gotten stuck, and I’m sure the colleges are doing everything they can to help the students. There’s a lot of question right now about how things are going to play out in terms of whether students are applying for a change of status or if students are applying to work. There’s a lot of anxiety out there as to what’s going to happen.”
Springfield College has many students from Saudi Arabia, a country that is not on the list, but as Alm said, “As this came about, everyone is worrying as to what could be next.”
Alm believes that the executive order could have effects on future potential students. If students considering coming to Springfield College, or any school in America for that matter, perhaps they’ll decide to go elsewhere because America is too unfriendly. Alm realizes that this order could potentially hurt enrollment in certain areas of the nation.
“Those of us in international education do not want to send the message that America is too unfriendly. We want students to come and build relationships here. America has always been an open country. I am a child of immigrants. This is a threat to what we believe in as an institution and as a nation.”