Jan. 29, College President Taylor Reveley sent out an email addressing a recent executive order detailing a ban of immigrants and non-immigrants of seven specific countries with large concentrations of Muslims. Travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been detained and/or deported, even those who have green cards, student/work visas and permanent residency in the United States. Judges have tried to temporarily and permanently throw out the ban, but everything is still up in the air.
It’s difficult to write this article, but not because I am personally affected, which I duly recognize. It’s difficult to write this article because I cannot help but think of my friends, peers, professors, their families, etc. that will be affected. Although, I do believe I can speak on behalf of us all when I say that it was encouraging to open Reveley’s email and see that our historic College will still be the safe haven to many that it has always been. While every news article, email and announcement is still dripping with uncertainty, Reveley’s assurance that the College will “continue to welcome and support our international people” comes as much-needed comfort.
When one follows the link to the detailed statement made by the Reves Center, it is even more bolstering to see international students being assured that the College will work to help students who might be seeking refugee status or even just student visas. It’s important for international students to feel accepted in the community so that they are able to assimilate into campus culture more easily. There is already an inherent culture shock that comes with studying internationally, and when students are faced with the current political climate, it’s marginally more difficult to feel at ease. To see the College making a conscious effort to reach out to international students that may feel/be targeted is uplifting for the entire student body. And to see that the College is working hard to get a stranded student back is also very reassuring.
Reveley isn’t here to be the final political authority on current events, and while I think the ban is unconstitutional and inappropriate, I think Reveley was polite and firm enough in his stance that the point got across.
As for Reveley, his levelheaded and firm resolution in his statement of unity provides a more personal type of consolation. His benevolent and almost paternal aura settles like a security blanket for students to cling to when faced with the overwhelming and seemingly inescapable reality of the political radicalism being embraced recently. While most students have actually never interfaced with Reveley, he presents an approachable and understanding personality that students tend to amplify with jokes and assertions of devotion. This most recent mass email is the perfect example of his ability to say the exact right thing at the exact right time. While that is probably part of his presidential duties, it is comforting, nonetheless, to a student body that is looking for some sort of clarification in a time of “alternative facts” (looking at you, Kellyanne Conway).
I was speaking with a friend who thought that maybe Reveley didn’t explicitly express that the College is opposed to the ban, and while I thought that was an interesting reflection, I don’t necessarily agree. Reveley isn’t here to be the final political authority on current events, and while I think the ban is unconstitutional and inappropriate, I think Reveley was polite and firm enough in his stance that the point got across. And he did it without creating a further divisive atmosphere for the people on campus who might think that the ban is just what America’s national security needs.
So, here’s to Taylor Reveley and an administration that (most of the time) cultivates a safe and positive atmosphere for its student population — it’s encouraging to feel heard and protected in an undefined era such as now.
Email Lexi Godfrey at firstname.lastname@example.org