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Why Clemson must resist, reject complacency in Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’

Clemson, right now, the entire country and quite possibly the world is looking at you, because of Nazanin Zinouri. That includes the immigrant community and students located here. One of the phrases I hear thrown around a lot is the “Clemson Family.” And a question I’ve asked myself, and I know so many more have as well, is what makes the “Clemson Family?”
Last spring, my friends and so many others felt lost, and staged a protest in Sikes Hall to bring attention to that fact. And here I am, as I sit here in the same building ready to talk to administration, almost a year later faced with mass discrimination affecting the people around me. It’s important to recognize a few key facts: this is not going to be the end nor will Muslims, immigrants and Middle Eastern people be the only communities to feel the effects.
You will start to see our LGBT community sucked into this, their rights taken from them, their safety and whatever remains of their comfort in these times removed in favor of theocratic religious protections. HB2 was only the beginning. You are already witnessing the rights of protesters being removed, laws being passed in several states making it legal to kill protesters in the event of an “accident” occurring. Right now, many of those in these marginalized communities are looking to you for protection, and looking to see what you are willing to do to assist and work for your “Clemson Family.”
Jan. 28, as well as Jan. 30, Clemson released a statement through President Clements with a lukewarm, at best, reaction to the new executive order. It stated “it is our recommendation that those individuals refrain from traveling outside the United States if at all possible for the time being,” as well as to say that you are reaching out to your 115 affected students. The terrifying thing you have yet to see is that the number of 115 is only a baseline, the bare minimum of those affected in our own community. What I want to know, is what you are doing to help students and alumni that are currently stuck abroad, as well as to ensure that students at Clemson can maintain their visa status (I-20 and DS-2019). Finally, as this ban is a clear obstruction of the academic process at all levels, we want to know how you will speak out against it more forcefully than you have done so far.
There is currently another student in Iran that has been waiting for eight months for his visa to be approved to return as a student, Afshin Ahmadi. Are you working to ensure his safe return as well? There are multiple academic conferences your professors are involved in, that have now had speakers or guests barred from entry and engagement. How will you work to help coordinate those? There are athletes that are faced with an inability to participate in the sports they love, because of their nationality barring them from leaving or entering the country. That, of course, plays into our community.
In light of actions taken at Boston College, it would also be a gesture of good faith so as to offer housing for your displaced immigrant students and alumni affected, similar to the housing of Coastal Carolina students during the past semester’s hurricane. These policies can only be considered more destructive than a natural hurricane, and I urge you to take steps to ensure your “Clemson Family” is protected to the fullest extent.
There are multiple colleges, from Rutgers to Harvard, Cornell, Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Duke, Arizona and beyond, that have all put out preliminary statements in opposition to the Muslim Ban. All of them were far more earnest in their support of their students, as well in their condemnation of a discriminatory policy, than your own, or even the second statement published Jan. 30. Given the immediacy of both of your statements it’s incredibly disappointing that you can’t produce something that’s stronger in either respects, in regards to your students and rejection of a legalized form of discrimination. We have received longer, more detailed and even more supportive emails affirming the “free speech” of Clemson students, than either email sent to students this Saturday or Monday. That’s confusing and represents a stunning lack of priorities, seeing as this ban puts the lives of your students at risk.
Last but not least, I want it understood that just because a law exists does not make it morally or ethically right. For years we existed with complacency under Jim Crow, only acting out after generations had passed. This is only the beginning, and Clemson’s statements reflect a tacit approval of what can only be viewed as one of the first of Trump’s obedience tests.
It is not a political statement to qualify that the people around you, the people you see every day, the people that work for you and go to this school, have humanity. It is not a political statement to say that the immigrants among us are just as deserving of rights and as equal as we are. It should not be a political statement to say that people have humanity, and that their lives matter, and yet I am led to think again and again that your impression is otherwise. It is not a political statement to say that discriminatory policies based in xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism, are, in fact, discriminatory and hateful. Your complacency in this matter, your lack of willingness to speak out and to say these things, to act as a conscientious objector in the face of discrimination do not give me much, if any, hope for the students here at this school.

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