Le Roy speaks on travel ban

Photo+courtesy+MLive

Photo courtesy MLive

At Calvin College, international students make up 11 per cent of the student body. President Michael Le Roy sent an email addressed to the Calvin community regarding Trump’s travel ban.

President Trump recently signed an executive order to keep refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries for three months. This ban affected even those with green cards and visas. Some people in flight during this time were detained in airports upon landing or sent back to the country they flew in from.

Worry grew for college-aged international students pursuing their education in the U.S.

“In light of a recent U.S. executive order which serves as a travel ban affecting seven countries,” Le Roy stated. “I am writing to reaffirm Calvin College’s commitment to our international students and more broadly, our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

“The college, in collaboration with immigration officials, has long provided visa maintenance and travel advice to our international students and will continue to do so,” Le Roy stated.

It is important to note that no Calvin students were directly affected by the ban.

“There were no issues due to this ban for any returning international students,” stated Jane Bruin, assistant dean of international student development. “We do acknowledge, however, that while no student was impacted directly on the travel side, this executive order does have indirect implications for our international students and our American students who are legal permanent residents.”

Calvin’s diversity is an essential part of the community as a whole. Without international students, Calvin College would not be the same. For example, events such as Rangeela and student organizations devoted to international students and cultural expansion would not exist.

Le Roy concluded his email by reminding the community of Calvin’s biblical commitment to the student body.

“Calvin’s continued commitment to our international students is a grateful and faithful response to a biblical teaching to love our neighbor and meet the high standards espoused in Matthew 25,” said Le Roy. “Thank you for taking part in this ongoing work.”

In 2014, former Vice President for Student Life Shirley Hoogstra left her position at Calvin College to take over the role of president for the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Hoogstra was one of eight Christian leaders to sign a letter addressed to President Trump and Vice President Pence regarding the ban.

“As evangelical Christians, we are guided by the Bible to be particularly concerned for the plight of refugees, individuals who have been forced to flee their countries because of the threat of persecution,” the letter stated.

The letter discussed the role of the Christian to care for refugees and immigrants and reminded the President that all people are made in the image of God.

“The Bible teaches us that each person — including each refugee, regardless of their country of origin, religious background or any other qualifier — is made in the Image of God, with inherent dignity and potential,” continued the letter. “Their lives matter to God, and they matter to us.”

The authors of the letter agreed that the government’s role in screening potential citizens is important; however, they argued that “the U.S. refugee resettlement program’s screening process is already extremely thorough” and reminded that it currently has “a remarkably strong record.”

Other signers of the letter included Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief; Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, ambassador of The Wesleyan Church and Chad Hayward, CEO of Accord Network, among others.

“Though none of our students were affected in terms of travel, attitudes of xenophobia that arise still affect our students,” stated Bruin. “I think one thing students can do is stay committed to welcoming others from all walks of life.”

“The student body can support anyone with an intercultural background by taking the time to listen to their stories,” stated Tara Braun, associate director of international admissions. “All of our backgrounds enrich our campus and make Calvin a very diverse community.”

Students who may need support regarding this issue, or have any questions are welcome to the  Intercultural Development Center located in Commons Annex 115.