UConn President: Trump travel ban is harmful to universities

Students and faculty gather to the steps of the Student Union to protest the recent Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump. Various speakers and activists pass the megaphone and speak out against the "Muslim Ban" issued last week. A small group of Republicans went to protest their side of the argument, holding an American flag. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

No University of Connecticut students or faculty were stranded by President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order restricting travel to seven majority-Muslim countries, according to top university officials.

The UConn’s president and provost said Trump’s recent executive order created “an unjust hardship for thousands of scholars and students” in a letter they sent to the UConn community Thursday afternoon.

The executive order, signed by Trump on Jan. 27, puts a 120-day halt on suspending refugee admissions to the United States and bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus has since announced green card holders will be able to reenter the country but anyone traveling to those countries will face additional screening.

“As a university, we are steadfastly committed to openness, inclusion, and to treating our fellow human beings with dignity, compassion, and respect,” UConn President Susan Herbst and Provost Jeremy Teitelbaum wrote in the letter. “The executive order issued last Friday is antithetical to these values.”

Herbst’s letter included a link to directions given by UConn’s International Student & Scholars Services (ISSS) relating to the ban. Near the top of the directions page, those affected are told they should not leave the country because they will be unable to re-enter.

“This is among the most disturbing and dispiriting pieces of advice we have had to provide in our professional lives,” Herbst and Teitelbaum wrote.

The ISSS page clarifies that those holding F-1 and J-1 student visas can still work on campus up to 20 hours per week.

Herbst and Teitelbaum’s announcement came one day after hundreds of students gathered on the Student Union Mall for a “Rally to resisTrump." On the same day, two mathematics professors, Damir Dzhafarov and Iddo Ben-Ari, released a petition calling on the university to more explicitly oppose the travel ban.

Haddiyyah Ali, a third-year political science and Africana studies major and speaker at Wednesday’s rally, said she appreciated the words from the president’s office.

“I think what we’re seeing is a shift by the president and the university’s office towards doing really concrete things about the way they feel about things that are impacting students,” Ali said.

When she heard the ban had been signed, Ali went into her parents’ bedroom crying, she said, but she said she was reassured in part by the community’s reaction.

“I think the community is mobilized and seeing now that we are living the history that we have talked about,” Ali said. “I’ve always thought about who I would have been if I were alive in 1964 when people were fighting for my rights and now I have to ask myself who I am going to be. And that’s what the community is doing now is asking ourselves who were are going to be in the next four years, and beyond that.”


Christopher McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.