President Donald Trump declared at the Pentagon Jan. 30, that he was enacting strict new measures to prevent domestic terror attacks. The order bans travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, according to a CNN article.
These countries include: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
With the new order being declared, Plattsburgh State Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Ken Knelly sent out an email to PSUC students addressing the issue by offering support and resources for students to have an open conversation about the new restrictions.
“I think that many people were concerned. We are still a welcoming community for both faculty and staff,” Amelia Lushia said, who is the Assistant Director of the Global Education Office.
Lushia said she thought the email was a statement to show that PSUC students are welcome no matter the political news.
“I’m going to quote my boss. ‘Community is a decision, not a circumstance,’” Lushia said. “So no matter who is our president or what is going on in the world, we have a choice of how we want to interact has a community here at SUNY Plattsburgh.”
Lushia said students have been coming into her office since Trump’s order to discuss questions such as renewing their visas and what they plan to do over the summer.
“A majority of those students were not from the seven countries, but there is a great concern that this list might get bigger,” she said.
Lushia also said the GEO office is always a resource for students.
“Our office is open and we’re here to talk. Everyone is welcome here,” she said. No matter what your immigration status is and what your faith is, you are welcome here.” Senior nutrition major and GEO Student Office Assistant Reem Arrad is from Bahrain and currently resides in Egypt.
“Obviously, I’m from the Middle East, a very Muslim country, so personally that scared me knowing that all the countries he banned were all Muslim.”
Arrad called her mom immediately after finding out about Trump’s ban and had a full discussion with her parents about her options.
“I know ultimately it would be best for me to stay during the summer just in case anything happens over the summer, and I won’t be able to come back and graduate,” she said.
Arrad said that getting the email made her realize how surreal her situation was.
“This might actually affect my study plans because I was planning on doing my master’s after this and even that might have to be on hold,” she said. Arrad said when she first heard about Trump winning the election, she remembered opening up her computer and thinking the results would change by the next day. She said she woke up the next morning and didn’t want to believe it. Arrad showed up to the GEO office almost in tears.
“He’s racist and a bigot. Knowing so many people voted for him, and wanted him in power hit me hard,” she said. “I was thinking ‘Wow, that’s a lot of people that don’t like people like me,’ and that just gets to you.”
Arrad said some of her other Muslim friends didn’t know who to talk to following his election win.
“As much as there are people in our age group that don’t like Trump, there are a lot of people that do support him, and it feels like you have to be careful when you’re speaking to people,” Arrad said.
Email Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org