University stresses its commitment to ‘the international community’

Tori Bedsole


In response to President Trump’s executive order on immigration released Friday, Jan. 27, Troy University officials are advising some international students to not leave the country unless absolutely necessary.

The executive order places a temporary travel ban on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. Citizens from these countries will not be admitted to the United States for 90 days.

“The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism,“ the executive order states. “We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”

Chancellor Jack Hawkins released a statement Tuesday, Jan. 31, assuring international students of the university’s “commitment to the international community.”

“As Alabama’s International University we are committed to learn together as a university community, to grow in understanding, and to build opportunities for all of our students,” the statement said. “If you understand people unlike yourself — people from other cultures, speaking different languages — then you can develop an appreciation for those people on a personal level. At that point, true and lasting relationships can develop.

“While we honor and respect the Trump Administration’s commitment to national security and protection of this country and its citizens, we know the executive order on Friday has caused concern, especially among our international students,” Hawkins said.

“We encourage all those on student visas to be especially careful to comply with all regulations that affect status and to avoid any unnecessary risks,” the statement said. “Students from the seven countries directly mentioned should avoid any travel outside the U.S. unless absolutely necessary.

“I am confident the TROY University Family will stand in unity and support our international students in their efforts to pursue and receive a quality education,” Hawkins said.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Hawkins said that the University is concerned with the effect the executive order has on international students’ anxiety.

“The effect that it may have… is on the anxiety level of our students and particularly what it might do to those students who are in the pipeline who want to come, from all over the world, to Troy University.“ According to Hawkins, 20 students from Iraq and Iran have applied to Troy, and those students may be delayed in coming to the U.S.

Hawkins said that Troy currently has students from three of the seven countries listed in the executive order who are enrolled and a professor from Iraq, who has expressed concern.

“We wanted to take a very firm stand in support of our students and the international community,” Hawkins said. “They don’t stand alone, even though they may be 10,000 miles from home.

“We stand with them and we will continue to do so.”

Darlene Schmurr-Stewart, dean of international student services, said that her department is attempting to inform the students.

“We have (students) from predominantly Muslim countries who are nervous,” Schmurr-Stewart said. “We stand with them. We attempt to provide a caring and hands-on environment for them.”

The University will refer students to local immigration lawyers who can help with visa issues if necessary, according to Schmurr-Stewart.

“If they don’t travel, we are there to assist them,” Schmurr-Stewart said. “We will know more and we will let them know.”

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