By: Todd Evans – Copy Editor
The United States and its academic institutions have always been a melting pot of ideologies, backgrounds and beliefs. This notion has been challenged by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigrants and refugees.
Executive Order 13769 signed almost four weeks ago intents to suspend refugee admittance to the U.S. from around the world and visas granting to citizens from seven Muslim majority countries.
The executive order has concerned many college students, including those at William Paterson University where diversity is an institution core value.
“Our University is home to people of many nationalities or with family members from many countries,” said WPU President Kathleen Waldron.
Waldron affirmed WPU’s stance to protect the privacy of immigrants who work or study at the university in a Jan. 30 statement.
“The University will not permit federal officials on campus to gather information about immigrants in our community without a subpoena or similar legal order,” Waldron said. “We will uphold the privacy protections granted our students by federal law.”
Another point of privacy in the statement was how William Paterson University Police Department public safety officers will not ask about immigration status with WPU community members unless mandated by law.
Even with the university administration’s commitment to its potentially affected members there is still anxiety in the air. WPU’s most apprehensive group about Trump’s immigration and refugee policy changes are the Muslim members.
Muslim Student Association Vice President Mariam Hammouda, who is the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, learned of Trump’s policy on the bus after work.
“I was very shocked at first but at the same time I really wasn’t shocked,” She said. “I knew from the beginning when he got elected that he was going to do something very reckless like this.”
Opposition to the executive order included a protest in Paterson, New Jersey two weeks ago that was attended by Muslim student association members. The protest drew up to 300 people according to NorthJersey.com.
“In the long run I’m happy to see that many people are coming out to speak out against this and people are coming out and supporting the Muslim and the immigrant community,” Hammouda explained.
An area also affected by the executive order is American academia where many students and scholars travel from abroad including from the seven targeted countries.
“Anyone who wants to come to the United States for an international conference would not be able to enter, research will get affected,” said immigration policy expert Dr. Fanny Lauby.
Lauby, a French immigrant, is disappointed with the policy’s message to the world.
“It’s a really confusing message because it goes against what the United States represents abroad. The United States for a long time has tried to project this idea of being the greatest democracy in the world, being very inclusive, being a welcoming nation of immigrants.”
In addition she thinks the executive order is a Muslim ban; comparing it to how Jim Crow laws in text did not state to discriminate against blacks but in effect and implementation did.
While the U.S. and the world grapple with the Trump administration’s fervent immigration and refugee policy WPU has made its intentions clear.
“William Paterson University places high value on the open and respectful exchange of ideas among faculty and students,” Waldron said. “One of our core values is the respect for diversity, in all its forms, and we will remain committed to fostering an environment that enables the academic and personal growth of all members of this community.”