Before we begin, I feel as though I need to issue a disclaimer: this article was written through the lens of a white woman raised in the upper middle class, who gathered her own opinions and became a left-wing, independent liberal feminist who strongly, passionately, and deeply protested Trump's campaign and cried on the day of the election. I have so many thoughts, feelings, and fears regarding Trump's presidency, not only for myself as a woman, but for my fellow Americans who don't carry the same privilege I do. I won't apologize for that, and I will continue to fiercely defend what I believe in.
Now for the fun stuff: I am a college student who comes from Massachusetts, a state which has been reliably Democratic since 1928, but has voted for four Republicans since then, but goes to school in Ohio, a notorious battleground state. And without getting into too much detail about the presidential election, the two candidates were on two completely opposite sides of the battlefield with their policies and beliefs. It's February, a month into Trump's presidency, and I already have been horrified.
Trump's Travel Ban can be summarized (in an unbiased way!) as follows: Trump signed an executive order which kept refugees from entering the country for 120 days and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries for three months. This travel ban has been determined to be illegal, most importantly by federal judges. It all played into Trump's campaign promise of instating a Muslim ban, a blanket term which prevents Muslims from entering the country. You probably remember hearing about this travel ban 24 hours a day for an entire weekend—lawyers were working pro bono, sitting on the ground in airports, fighting for those who shouldn't be barred from the country because of their religion (which, by the way, is in the Constitution).
So, what role do college and universities play in situations like these? Why is it so important that universities take a stand against proposed the Muslim bans or any executive order which in some way strips rights from their students?
First of all, because universities cannot claim to be working towards diversity and inclusion if they support a ban which makes those they are trying to include feel unsafe in their country. Many, many groups of people have already felt unsafe in America after Trump was elected - hate crimes in America increased after the election. Universities must protect their international students, who come to America with no family or support system and are already struggling, without adding hatred and possible safety issues into the mix. Also, universities themselves play a pivotal role in the future of this country—quite literally, educating the minds of the future. What does that say about us as a country if we discount an entire group of people because of their religion, which had been twisted, decimated and removed from its truth by the media, by politicians, and those who are so afraid of difference that they cannot accept anyone who is different from themselves? There are radical terrorists in every religion, but those who practice Christianity or Catholicism are not called terrorists in this country—they're called mentally ill.
Additionally, universities would suffer immensely with the travel ban in place. The travel ban would threaten the visa status of students and professors, disrupt research exchanges (which, as someone who works in research knows, research exchanges are what lead to breakthroughs in the first place), and threatened international conferences. Universities who don't fight against the travel ban open themselves up to losing funding all over the place. Many institutions receive a lot of money from students and research, and universities are businesses. Even if they didn't care about people at all, completely focused on making money, they would suffer under the travel ban. That's something that the fiscally conservative Republicans who praised Trump could even get behind.
I am proud to be at a university which stood up for those affected by the travel ban and renounced it in its entirety. That's despite the attack our campus experienced this fall, where many people came out of the woodwork to reinforce the idea of a Muslim ban. Furthermore, I am proud to be able to say that nearly every college and university came out and denounced the order. But the fight isn't over.
Trump's administration plans to issue another order similar, and we must continue to fight. Universities must continue to fight, and its students who, like myself, are privileged, must use our privilege to stick up for those who don't have a voice in Trump's America. This will be a long and exhausting four years, but we'll be damned if we aren't going to stick up for what we believe in.