In a campus-wide email, Franklin College President Thomas Minar said no students, faculty or staff, to his knowledge, were affected by an executive order placed by U.S. President Donald Trump that would suspend the entry of all refugees to the country.
The email followed less than a week after Trump declared a travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries around the world: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Schools across the country, including Franklin College, notified students of their commitment to recognize “the importance of a diverse educational environment that welcomes people of all backgrounds.”
Minar also urged students who could be affected to not leave the country until further guidelines from the federal government are released.
While the ban has since been barred after U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order against the ban, several people are taking action to ensure the safety of Muslims in the country.
Early last year, philosophy and religion professor David Carlson created signs that read, “We stand with American Muslims,” and since the executive order, Carlson has received requests for signs from Virginia to California.
“What’s going on with Trump is causing a lot of people to wake up and say, ‘I can’t rely on other people to solve this. I have to become more active, myself,’” Carlson said.
Carlson’s sign campaign was one way he took action to support American Muslims, a group he says is receiving the most pressure during this time.
Since the campaign took off in 2016, Carlson said he still receives requests for the signs. Following Trump’s recent executive order, more than 40 requests for signs were sent to Carlson within a three-day period.
“It’s 180 degrees in terms of the wrong direction , ” Carlson said of the ban. “The truth is the people that most need to come to Europe and the United States are those that are escaping the horrible situation in Syria and the camps they’ve been put in. They want what every human being wants. They want a decent place to live, they want to not have their lives threatened, they want opportunities for their children.”
Spanish professor Sara Colburn-Alsop agreed.
“I feel for the people who just want what you and I want. They want to be able to have food on the table, not worry day-to-day what they’re going to be doing the next day,” she said. “Those are the people affected by any of those kinds of bans. People in war-torn areas are not coming here because they hate their country, they’re coming here because they’re fearful they’re going to die. The ones coming are desperate.”
Colburn-Alsop is currently planning a college-sanctioned trip to Cuba, which is set to take place in August. Despite concerns of closed borders to Cuba in the future, the trip is scheduled to go on as planned.
“If you want to see Cuba, now how it is, now is the time,” she said.
And while the future of Cuba lies ahead, Colburn-Alsop said her current concerns are for the Muslim community.
“I have a lot of friends either in stages of working on getting their citizenship or are not documented that live here,” Colburn-Alsop said. “They’re extremely fearful—not just Muslims, but immigrants in general.”
Carlson also continues to meet with Muslims in the community, specifically during programs held by the Shoulder to Shoulder in Interfaith Witness campaign, which dedicates itself to spreading national freedom and peace.
“The fear within the Muslim community here has gone through the roof,” Carlson said, “And I think that’s why the signs are more important than ever.”