By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
Shortly after students returned to campus for the spring semester, Washington College President Sheila Bair issued a statement regarding the executive order President Donald Trump signed calling for a temporary ban on citizens from several countries. Though the ban has been struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, President Trump’s sentiments remain the same, and his administration is looking to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
According to the statement, President Bair “assured every member of the WC community, whether you are from this country or not, that you are welcome here.” She went on to praise WC as a “vibrant institution that fosters intellectual inquiry and diversity of background and belief, with more than 150 international students from 30 different countries.”
The College currently has no students or visiting professors from the seven countries on the ban list: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
“It’s hard to quantify what the impact of such a decision has on the psyche of our campus as a whole and the more extended lives of any faculty, staff, or student. It’s very possible that someone in our community has been impacted by this Executive Order through friends, family members, or colleagues/peers,” Dr. Sarah Feyerham, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, said.
Dr. Feyerham reinforced President Bair’s sentiments, emphasizing that all members of the WC community are welcome, regardless of their nationality, country of origin, or faith. “We have a community responsibility to take President Bair’s statement and put it into action, not just through words. We need to find ways to repeat our message of welcome and back up our words with actions,” she said.
“Students definitely don’t need to wait for a faculty or staff member to organize something — we encourage them to take the lead on programs or events and let us know how we can support and help,” Dr. Feyerham said. “Students can start to have more intentional conversations with students who differ from them and may be from another country, represent another religion or just have a different viewpoint.”
Students can reach out to the Global Education Office Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 409 Washington Ave through walk-ins or by appointment; the Office of Intercultural Affairs at Caroline House; and Health and Counseling Services, located between Caroline and Queen Anne’s house, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m; and faculty and staff members for support.