A resolution proposed at the Jan. 31 meeting of Student Assembly Senate aims to address new stances of the United States federal government and their effects on students at the College of William and Mary.
The One Tribe Resolution, sponsored by Chairman of the Senate Danny O’Dea ’18, Senator Mitch Croom M.A. ’16 and Senator Annelise Yackow ’18, and supported by SA President Eboni Brown ’17, aims to affirm that the College is inclusive of immigrants and refugees.
This resolution was introduced days after President Donald Trump’s executive order, which established a 90-day ban for immigrants coming from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the U.S.
According to the resolution, if passed, SA would reaffirm its commitment to all College students regardless of national origin, ethnicity or religion, denounce efforts to scapegoat Muslims or the religion of Islam for the actions of political extremists, refute the belief that refugees pose threats to Americans, denounce efforts to exclude immigrants from the U.S., direct SA to protect the College community from discrimination and support the College administration in efforts to protect students.
Croom said that the resolution was prompted by recent changes in national immigration policy and potential changes to the lives of students at the College. He said that he believes many students were taken by surprise and that he believes many students are not fond of the policy shift.
Seeing that [executive order] come down from the federal government with what a lot of us thought was very little warning or consideration on their part … was very disconcerting and I don’t think it goes too far to say that nobody at William and Mary was fond of it,” Croom said.
“Seeing that [executive order] come down from the federal government with what a lot of us thought was very little warning or consideration on their part … was very disconcerting and I don’t think it goes too far to say that nobody at William and Mary was fond of it,” Croom said.
According to a statement from College spokesperson Suzanne Seurattan, there are four students directly impacted by Trump’s executive order, including one graduate student who has been banned from re-entering the U.S.
O’Dea said that SA tries to refrain from commenting on national politics and focus only on the community of the College. However, he said that when national politics overlaps with the College community SA can and will take a stand.
“We tend to pass things that directly affect students that have something to do with an issue that has taken place in the immediate past,” O’Dea said. “Our job is to say that we still represent you, you still belong to the William and Mary community and we want to make sure you know this is your home.”
On Jan. 29, the University of Virginia released an official statement offering support for international students. In this statement, U.Va. officials said they had reached out to students from affected countries and had advised students not to travel abroad. Croom said that he hopes SA’s actions encourage the College’s administration to make similar efforts. He says SA has no objections to what the College has done so far, only that SA wants to see the College expand its efforts going forward.
Tuesday’s senate meeting came two days after College President Taylor Reveley sent out an email Jan. 29 in regards to the policy change. In this email he said that the College and the Reves Center for International Students would be working to interpret what this order meant for students. Yackow said that his statement is in line with what the SA is trying to do.
O’Dea said that everyone in SA understands the complexity of the situation but still stands firm in their support to students.
“Given our status as a state-funded school, we understand that there are certain ropes and restrictions that the school has to tip-toe around,” O’Dea said. “[SA does not] have those restrictions. We have the ability to say that we were elected by the students, we represent the students and as far as we are concerned, they are our students as well.”
Yackow said that she looks forward to SA and the school working together more on this topic and forming a partnership.
“I know these things take time, but going forward we can work with the school more and collaborate more,” Yackow said.
The resolution will be voted on during the next SA senate meeting, which is Feb. 7.