Ball State hosts open forums in response to Trump's immigration ban

Hundreds of protestors surround the baggage carousel, at the Indianapolis Airport on Jan. 29, after President Trump's executive orders on immigration. Stephanie Amador // DN
Hundreds of protestors surround the baggage carousel, at the Indianapolis Airport on Jan. 29, after President Trump's executive orders on immigration. Stephanie Amador // DN

Next open forum:

Friday, Feb. 3, 2017
Student Center – Carinal Hall Room B
3 p.m.

Following President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigration, the university is hosting open forum events at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center.

The first forum was at 3 p.m. Jan. 31. In it, faculty from the Rinker Center explained the details of the executive order to those in attendance and answered questions.

Interim President Terry King spoke briefly, mentioning that immigration to and from the seven countries under the ban is "a very personal thing" because of the frequent international travel of his colleagues from his engineering background.

When asked if Ball State can continue its international partnerships with the countries affected by the ban, King could not confirm nor deny their futures.

“I just don’t know,” he said. “It’s the most bizarre situation I’ve seen in nearly 40 years I’ve been doing this kind of work. Actually, the only thing it compares to is ... the late '70s in the Iranian Revolution. Before that time, Iran sent the most number of international students to this country.”

University spokesperson Joan Todd confirmed that 12 students — five students from Libya, four from Iraq, two from Iran and one from Yemen — are currently enrolled and are from countries whose citizens are currently banned from entering the United States.

Niloofar Rajabli, an Iranian second-year graduate student in biology, attended the forum to better understand what the ban means for her future in the U.S.

“It kind of affects my concentration on a lot of stuff, ... but it doesn’t directly affect me because of the type of decision I have for my life," Rajabli said. "I’m already in the States." 

Rajabli came to the U.S. two years ago for graduate school, and hopes that tensions over the ban smooth out.

“After 90 days, I hope that it’s going to be resolved, because many people’s lives are affected," she said.

As an employee in domestic admissions, Kylie Wright also went to the forum to learn about how the ban will affect her job.

"Hearing Dr. King talk and give a little bit of personal insight into it was good, I think," Wright said. "I know a lot of people are wanting to hear a little bit more of that, more so than like the email that was just sent out to the University. I think a lot of people are wanting more of a statement. So, it was kind of cool to hear that, just to know that the university, in general, does have the same view that I would assume that most of us have."

Saleem Abufares, president of the Muslim Student Association, has been protesting the executive order with members of several Central Indiana mosques. He said he recently protested at the Indianapolis International Airport, and by joining individuals from "all different backgrounds," he's hopeful the message is being heard.

"I went there to give support, and we went out there to protest against Trump's immigration ban and to bring notice to rights of Americans and people visiting America," Abufares said. "Initiating an immigration ban won't solve these problems, they will cause more problems."

The junior construction management major was born in Indiana, and his parents are dual citizens of both Libya and the United States. Abufares said he's traveled to Libya many times with his parents, and although his family won't be affected by the ban, he's unsure about what the future may hold.

"A lot of people [in Libya] want to seek asylum in the United States for their own good because their country is war torn and they don't have anywhere to live anywhere to work," he said. "Without work, you can't really do anything."

Leslie Thomas, a senior communications major, has also been protesting the immigration ban. Thomas said he heard about protests going on in other parts of the country, and he joined Abufares at the Indianapolis airport to "take in everything that's been going on."

"There is so much hate in the air, and a lot of it comes from social biases that are carried around by people who lack familiarity," Thomas said. "I firmly believe that this is changeable, but it all start with us by bringing familiarity to those who need it the most."

Thomas said by joining hands with others who want to welcome immigrants and citizens from "all countries," he was able to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion.

"The melting-pot symbolism that America has held for so many years is at a standstill," Thomas said. "When countries think of America today, they will think of our president. They will think of this temporary ban that was put into place. They will think about how divisive we are as a nation. 

"As someone that currently lives in America, I am at a loss for words. The refugees are fleeing from war and terror. They do not want to bomb us or kill us. They want to live a wonderful life just like the rest of us."

University and college presidents around the state have been responding to the recent executive order as well.

At Purdue University, President Mitch Daniels denounced the immigration ban in a statement, calling it "poorly implemented," and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie called the executive order "contrary to the very core of our values." 

In his original statement sent through a campus-wide email, King did not join other presidents in denouncing the ban. However, he did say the university would help students in need of assistance.

"It is important to restate that we are committed to our inclusive environment, and remain very supportive of all of our students, especially international students and faculty who might feel particularly vulnerable at this time," King said in the statement. "We will continue to closely follow developments and provide appropriate support and assistance."

The next forum will be at 3 p.m. Feb. 3 in Cardinal Hall B. Faculty and the public are invited to attend.


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