Marshall President Gilbert addresses Trump’s executive order

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Students, staff and faculty gathered in room BE 5 of the Memorial Student Center Monday for a forum regarding President Donald Trump’s executive orders and specifically how they affect Marshall University’s international student population.

The meeting was announced early Monday via a tweet on the official Marshall Twitter page. Students and faculty were encouraged to attend and voice their questions and concerns. Present at the forum were Marshall officials like Stephanie Hurley Collier, executive director of the INTO Center, Tammy Johnson, executive director of admissions and international student services, coordinator of immigration services Leslie Burdette and Marshall president Jerome Gilbert, who began the forum with words of encouragement and solidarity with students.

“We support the students on the campus regardless of who they are and this weekend we had occasion to reach out to students who were affected by the executive order,” Gilbert said. “We want them to know that we will do everything we can to assist them, to retain them and to give them advice about how they need to move forward in this situation.”

The forum began when student immigrant and president of the Marshall Young Democrats group David Crawley shared his experience with the crowd in the MSC.

“I came to America in 2004 from Liverpool,” Crawley said. “What brought me in today is what we can do to protect these students, because I identify with them so much. We can’t let these students be victimized about who they are and where they come from because that’s not what this university is about. That’s not what John Marshall would’ve wanted.”

Crawley’s sentiments were echoed by those in attendance. The questions and concerns from attendees focused on things like the university giving lists of students from countries affected by the order, travel concerns and statements shared by professors, proclaiming solidarity for INTO students and the immigrants of Huntington. Hurley Collier said that the main concern she has been hearing is about basic travel needs.

“Students are just really confused right now,” Hurley Collier said. “The students from countries directly listed on the order have concerns about travel and what the action means in terms of their ability to go home for breaks and return to their countries. Aside from that, people are concerned in terms of the country’s direction. Will there be further executive orders that apply additional restrictions and how will those restrictions impact these students?”

Hurley Collier said in the forum that the English these orders are often written in language that even English speaking students find confusing. She said instructors at the INTO center take hot topic issues and apply them in the classroom to help students make sense of the political world.

Students voiced their concerns with the immigration policies and specifically what would happen to undocumented students who may come into trouble with the law, or MUPD. Public safety director Jim Terry iterated that to his knowledge there has never been instances of undocumented students or citizens causing trouble in town and told the crowd Immigration and Customs Enforcement would tell him to let the suspects go.

Hurley Collier said there is no direct legal help within the INTO office but said the university has a large safety net when it comes to legal issues surrounding immigration.

“We really partner with the university as an extension of them to make sure we’re aligned in our process and our outreach,” Hurley Collier said. “In terms of student legal aid, we don’t provide anything in center, but we really encourage them again to work with the university immigration office to see what their outreach is and the people they work with directly.”

Hurley Collier said students and faculty should be seeing more programs coming from the INTO center in the coming weeks. She said topics include the current political climate and clearing common misconceptions about Islam.

Hurley Collier said the best way for domestic students to help their international peers is to reach out and practice humanity.

“I think a lot of our domestic students have been doing great things already,” Hurley Collier said. “I would say our students want connections with American students, they actively seek it. Its difficult to walk up to people and say ‘Hey, I’m new here. I want to know more about you.’ But I think that’s absolutely the best thing to do.”

Hurley Collier said domestic students who would like to connect with international students have lots of opportunities, including a campus conversation program, which matches up students from all across the world.

“For us as a country to make the best policies and decisions,” Hurley Collier said, “we have to understand them from holistic viewpoints and the best way to do that is learning about things you don’t know.”

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected]

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