Student political leaders respond to Trump’s recent executive order

Caelin Mills

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday putting a temporary ban on admitting refugees, green card and visa holders from countries with high terrorist activity. The action has sparked unrest throughout the country.

The countries affected by the 90-day ban include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. After its enactment, protests erupted across the country as current visa holders faced trouble returning to the United States.

Kent State President Beverly Warren sent out a statement about the issue in a university-wide email Sunday.

“The faculty and staff of Kent State University affirm our longstanding commitment to be a welcoming, inclusive environment where all feel at home. That commitment does not change as political or social movements change. Our values define who we are and what we stand for in a community that aspires to advance the creativity and belief in the invaluable benefits of an increasingly global society,” Warren said.

The university statement was appreciated by both sides of the political spectrum.

“President Warren’s response was very heartwarming and reassuring,” said Anthony Erhardt, vice president of the College Democrats. “I think Kent is a very welcoming community, and I think that it goes to show that politics is far reaching and affects everybody. I read a story today about a refugee from Ohio. These are real people and I think it puts an emphasis on this being a real issue. Even if it doesn’t affect you, it still has ramifications.”

In her email, Warren strongly encouraged international students and scholars “to reconsider travel outside of the United States for the time being.”

Across the aisle, Jennifer Hutchinson, president of the College Republicans, commended Warren for her swift response to the Executive Order.

“In regards to President Warren’s message, I think it was well-written and a needed response,” Huchinson said. “We are a university home to many international students. I think it was important for her and the university to reach out to them and if they have questions or concerns that the university wants to work with them on what protocols they should take.”

Despite the positive response for Warren’s statement, there are still differing viewpoints on the Trump’s executive order.

“I was appalled by it and the precedent that it’s setting — especially how broad it is in its scope. You can dress it up however you want; it’s a Muslim ban,” Erhardt said. “The countries that have been banned have not perpetrated attacks against the U.S. in 30 years. I think it will make it harder for us to work with our Muslim allies in that region and I’m glad to see the (American Civil Liberties Union) is fighting it.”

Hutchinson said she is wary of the choice, but she sees the reason behind the action.

“My concern is this is a problem the United States is facing, (and) that there are groups that want to do horrible things to this nation and will unfortunately take advantage of something like the Syrian refugee crisis,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t think we can play ignorant about that. We need to figure out the best way to bring them in that’s safe for them and safe for us. I don’t know if this is the best way to do it … however, I think it’s a response to a legitimate concern.”

Putting differences aside, the common theme remains of keeping Kent State’s international students in mind.

“I think we all need to just offer as much perspective as possible and offer that support to our fellow students,” Hutchinson said.

Caelin Mills is the politics reporter, contact her at [email protected]