Local colleges are issuing guidance to students ensnared in an executive order issued by President Donald Trump to prohibit citizens of seven majority Muslim nations from entering the U.S.
The executive order, issued Friday, is titled “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To The United States” and mandated a 90-day ban on U.S. entry by nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order also may prevent nationals from those countries from re-entering the U.S., which could affect those who choose to travel outside of the U.S. at this time.
Both President Bradley W. Bateman, of Randolph College, and President Kenneth R. Garren, of Lynchburg College, issued statements Tuesday addressing the executive order and its uncertainties.
“As I write, we find ourselves in a rapidly changing environment. The full extent of how the Executive Order will affect us is unknown. Likewise, the full extent of the legal challenges to the order is not yet clear. While we do not know all the consequences of the Executive Order on faculty, staff, and students, we are reaching out to those who we think are most likely to be affected,” read part of the statement from Bateman posted on the Randolph College website.
A similar message from Garren was posted on the Lynchburg College website.
“While Lynchburg College reviews the Executive Order and its impact on our students, faculty, and staff, I recommend that members of our community who may be affected avoid traveling outside of the U.S.,” Garren advised as part of a longer statement to students, faculty and staff.
Bryan Gentry, director of media relations for LC, noted via email concerned students should contact the international and study abroad adviser, while faculty should contact human resources.
In an email from Brenda Edson, director of college relations at Randolph College, Edson said some affiliated with the school had been affected but did not disclose further details about them.
“There are members of the Randolph College community affected by the President’s Executive Order that bars any new refugees from entering the country or citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. We will not identify those individuals publicly or discuss their numbers,” Edson wrote.
According to the Randolph College website, “international students make up 12 percent of our student body and represent 30 nations.”
Edson added the executive order does not change anything within the Randolph community, and the college “does not discriminate nor allow discrimination on the basis of religion or nationality.”
According to William Wegert, dean of International Student Programs at Liberty University, LU plans to issue guidance to three students from majority Muslim countries included in the travel ban.
“All of Liberty’s students from countries affected by the president’s orders are now in the U.S. for the spring semester, so they are not facing any critical situations at the present time. We are participating in a conference call Wednesday on this subject put on by the National Association of College and University Attorneys and expect to get the latest information during that call. We realize this might be an unsettling time for some of our students and we will provide guidance to them as we gather accurate information,” Wegert wrote to The News & Advance on Tuesday.
Since the rollout of the executive order Friday, it has been met with controversy and confusion.
Sally Yates, formerly the acting attorney general, was dismissed by the Trump administration Monday after instructing the Justice Department not to defend the executive order. Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, then was sworn in to replace Yates and has stated he will advise the DOJ to defend Trump’s executive order.
Now Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has asked to join Aziz v. Trump et al., a pending case against the executive order filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A commonwealth legal brief filed Tuesday reads: “That order immediately led to the violation of the constitutional and statutory rights of numerous residents of the United States. Because innumerable Virginia residents have been and will continue to be subjected to degrading and unlawful treatment under the Executive Order, the Commonwealth is compelled to intervene in this case.”
Another issue at stake for colleges is the possible revenue loss from tuition paid by students from the seven countries included in the executive order. According to College Factual, a research website focused on higher education, colleges and universities could lose up to $700 million in tuition because of the executive order.