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Student Assembly Calls for Resources for Students Affected by Travel Ban

On Sunday, students gathered for an emergency meeting held by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s Student Assembly to present and discuss “A Resolution Concerning the ‘Muslim Ban.’” Two other members FaceTimed into the meeting in order to attain a quorum necessary for debate.

Sponsored by Aneeb Sheikh, MCAS ’20, and Michael Proietta, MCAS ’19, the resolution concerning the “Muslim ban,” officially known as a travel ban, affirmed UGBC’s commitment to “protect and ensure the safety of the diverse identities within the Boston College community,” as well as calling for the University to “provide free housing to students, staff, and faculty (if applicable) who are affected by the ban” over the various academic breaks. The resolution was passed unanimously.

“This is certainly a commentary on a national issue, but because it does affect some students on this campus, it is directly in relation to all of us,” Proietta said. “And an attack on refugees, on those that are not fully United States citizens, is not just an attack on those individuals, but an attack on all of us.”

According to CNN, federal judges in Boston had ruled that officials cannot detain a person on the basis of Trump’s executive order, and courts in New York and Washington issued similar judgements to ease the panic and confusion. On Sunday, Jan. 29, the Department of Homeland Security said that it will comply with judicial orders not to deport detained travelers. A federal judge in Seattle issued an injunction against the executive order on Friday, halting its implementation nationwide, and an appeal by the Justice Department was rejected this weekend.

At BC, fear and confusion sparked a rally held by the Muslim Student Association on Friday, and senior-level administrators at BC, including University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., sent out an email to all students last Sunday openly objecting to the directive, and affirming the University’s commitment to “educate the children of immigrants.”

The SA’s resolution calls for the University to provide free housing to members of BC’s community who are affected by the travel ban, and continue to accept students with refugee status in the U.S.

The resolution had originally called for a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or the International Rescue Committee (IRC) using the revenue of the Diversity and Inclusion Programming Board (DIP) of UGBC. But the sponsors of the resolution had not reached out to DIP before presenting the resolution, and it was established that UGBC can only donate up to $1,000 to an external organization. It also must be approved by BC to ensure that the organization upholds Jesuit values.

Hagop Toghramadjian, MCAS ’17, brought up the fact that the ACLU is invested in many social issues, including abortion, and that donating to the ACLU would be taking a definitive stance on all of the issues ACLU is invested in. The SA ultimately decided against the donation portion of the resolution and deleted it.

During the questioning period, a senator asked why the sponsors decided to title the resolution with “Muslim ban” instead of “travel ban,” which is what the order is officially called. The questioner noted that former President Barack Obama’s administration had put lighter limitations on the same seven countries that Trump has banned travel from.

“It was rhetorical in nature,” Proietta said. “It certainly isn’t simply a Muslim ban, there were certainly Christians who were affected by this travel ban. But, because much of it was directed, in terms of hostility towards the Muslim community, I think it was more direct and rhetorically effective to call it a ‘Muslim ban’ instead of merely a ‘travel ban.’”

Sheikh added that there is an abundance of evidence that the travel ban is in fact a Muslim ban, as Trump announced on the campaign trail that he would look to enact a Muslim ban. Trump even looked to legal counsel to see if a Muslim ban could be enacted.

Russell Simons, UGBC president and MCAS ’17, and Meredith McCaffrey, UGBC executive vice president and MCAS ’17, will meet with Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Jones to further discuss the free-housing aspect of the resolution. According to a senator at the meeting, Jones was very receptive to the suggestion of providing accommodations to those affected by the order.

“This is certainly a moral imperative, because to truly be a free nation, we must support all individuals, and not bring to the state of terror, to the state of violence, in which this executive ban is promoting,” Proietta said.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

February 5, 2017