By Lexie Perlow
Last Wednesday Saint Lawrence University held a forum to discuss the intricacies of the White House Executive Order to ban certain immigrants and refugees from entering the country based on their nationality, and in the opinion of some who oppose the ban, their religious affiliations. Speakers at this event included the new Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, the Executive Director of International Admissions Musa Khalidi, and many other members of St. Lawrence’s faculty and staff. The event covered the basics on the implications of the executive order, such as which countries would be affected by the ban. The seven countries include Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen, all nations with a majority of Muslim citizens. Refugees and immigrants from these 7 countries will be barred from entering the US for at least the next 90 days. The speakers also discussed how the university would work to protect the educational rights of all international students here on campus.To get a better idea of how international students were feeling about the executive order and the university’s event, I talked to international student
To get a better idea of how international students were feeling about the executive order and the university’s event, I talked to international student Geovania Guterres Ornai, a sophomore from the island of Timor-Leste. When asked what her general impressions of the event were, Geovania said that the speakers’ main purpose was to let international students know that the university would be there for them, and if something were to happen to anybody regarding the ban, the university would do all it could to provide resources to help them out.
Speaking about her own opinion on the ban, Geovania said: “I personally feel rage, sadness, and disappointment.” She plans on joining an international project called the Davis Project, promoting peace around the world. With the ban, Geovania is worried about being able to go back to her home country to work on the project because even though the executive order explicitly states that the ban only affects those from the seven Muslim countries listed, she has had issues in the past with traveling to and from the United States. With the ban in place, she believes it will become even harder to travel for international students.
Geovania’s message to students who are against the executive order and are American citizens echoes that of the speakers at the event: get involved. She urges that “The whole community speak up about it. Think about your international friends that are affected by this and raise your voice.” She notes how our generation needs to be more involved in the political climate in order to create change. It is easy to feel that the ban is wrong and be empathetic, but in order to change anything we have to stand up as a nation and help those who are being affected by our political choices. The event reinforced the fact that St. Lawrence University is standing by our international students, and we encourage students from all nations to join our campus community.