A few weeks ago, the presidents and chancellors of 48 different universities signed a letter condemning Trump’s “Muslim ban,” an executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. In the letter, they cite the academic potential of students coming from the targeted nations alongside American values as reasons to reevaluate the ban and “rectify the damage done” by the order. Missing from the list of signatures is the College of William and Mary, as is any other college from Virginia.
Students often have to pressure the administration to release statements on issues that directly impact them.
The College prides itself on its traditions, which include avoiding politics at any cost. Students often have to pressure the administration to release statements on issues that directly impact them. One cause that some students are currently behind is to turn the College into a sanctuary campus, which would involve implementing policies to protect undocumented students and refusing to comply with federal regulations if necessary. The most that we have gotten from the administration so far, however, is brief and vague public statements. College President Taylor Reveley’s most recent email, “Our International Community,” recognized the humanity of international students but outlined no steps that the College is taking to protect them. The infamous “Let’s Get a Grip” email following the election took several days and multiple reports of harassment to be released.
Of course, the College is a public institution that relies heavily on conservative donors. Publicly showing support for certain issues could easily lead to a loss of funds. Administrative decisions in the past, such as when former president Gene Nichols removed the Wren Cross, have caused controversy. It’s unfortunate that the administration taking a stance to protect its students could possibly lead to losing funds and further harm. But while there must be discretion, we can’t have excuses.
After months of growing support, Trump’s ideas are simply considered “politics,” making these issues off-limits.
Many people will say that the College should not partake in partisan political discussions or choose sides in debate. The past year and a half have led to the normalization of Trump’s rhetoric and extreme political platform. One year ago, Republicans and Democrats alike were appalled by many of Trump’s stances. But now, after months of growing support, the same ideas are simply considered “politics,” making these issues off-limits. Just as you can’t hate someone for their political opinion, it is commonly accepted that educational institutions shouldn’t take sides on politics.
Normalizing Trump’s extreme views on immigration, undocumented immigrants and more has led to an environment where historically “neutral” institutions are excluded from the discussion. But resisting Trump’s administration cannot only be in the hands of the people — we need support from various places. This is beyond a normal presidency.
*Editor’s Note: President Reveley signed the second version of the letter condemning the executive order prior to the publication of this column.
Email Aastha Uprety at firstname.lastname@example.org.