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Clemson admin, community attend forum surrounding Trump’s executive order

Earlier today (Jan. 30), Clemson University began a series of forums in relation to President Trump’s recent executive order. This order barred individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., including Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
On Jan. 28, former Clemson grad student Nazanin Zinouri posted a Facebook status explaining her inability to return to her home in Greenville, South Carolina.
“After waiting in the line to get my documents checked and after 40 minutes of questions and answers, I boarded the plane to Washington, only to have two TSA officers getting in and ask me to disembark the plane!!! Yes after almost 7 years of living the the United States, I got deported!!! [sic],” Zinouri wrote, detailing her attempted trip back from Dubai.
Since then, the Clemson community has been engaged in dialogue surrounding what the university can do in response.
Among those present at the forum was Provost Bob Jones; Dr. Sharon Nagy, vice provost for international affairs; Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran, director of international services in the Office of Global Engagement (OGE); Doug Hallenbeck, senior associate vice president of student affairs and Almeda Jacks, vice president of student affairs.
Discussions included Clemson’s peer institutions and their response in comparison. Recently, schools such as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University have made public renouncements of the executive order.
Jones emphasized that more would get done “behind closed doors” as opposed to a public demonstration, referencing the Clemson Office of Governmental Relations (OGR) in Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Jacks also stated that a representative from OGR is currently in Washington, D.C., advocating for those affected.
Dr. Nagy then stated that universities would only share immigration information about students if legally obligated. This would mean that statements from other universities were reaffirmations of already-placed policies. While Clemson has the same standard in place, Nagy stated that the university would consider making a public assertion.
The crowd’s responses to administration’s ideas were mixed.
Some criticized Clemson President Clements’ involvement since the order came into effect.
Jacks spoke of Clements’ non-partisanship, saying “he’s going by the letter of the law.”
However, one forum member remarked upon his absence. Discussion also led to some members’ disapproval of Clements’ recent university-wide emails.
One member described his emails as “lukewarm at best.”
Another mentioned the fact that Clements did not mention last year’s Sikes Sit In in the emails to show that “[the Clemson community] learn[ed] a lot.”
Jacks repeated that Clements cared deeply about the Clemson community.
Other members wanted Clemson to defy Trump’s current and/or future orders by failing to supply federal institutions with any information regarding students, faculty or staff from the seven listed countries. Some even mentioned anxiety of other groups such as the Latino and LGBTQ communities being at risk of similar discriminatory action.
“It’s not politically motivated to say that students’ lives matter,” one member said.
Upon specific mention of undocumented students, Provost Jones agreed with a member’s suggestion that addressing those individuals proactively would be the best course of action.
Most forum members agreed that the goal was to foster the success of the university and its students, faculty and staff, despite disagreement on how to achieve said goal.
Both Nagy and de Saint Céran stated that OGE is working on a document to be released in the next 24 hours that will include resources such as where affected people can go for legal counsel and support. The OGE will also continue to monitor developments that relate to the executive order. Provost Jones committed to advocacy for visa extensions.
During the forum, other’s stories of detainment similar to Zinouri’s were mentioned, with the intent of receiving public attention. This was after a member spoke of the benefits of Zinouri’s story being publicized, which helped fund her legal fees, along with garner her support.
Provost Jones, in response, stated that university policy prevents them from providing public support for those affected by the order, since their names cannot be released. However, Jones did recommend that private action be taken by the community.
The next forum will once again be in McKissick Theatre in the Hendrix Student Center on Jan. 31 from noon – 1:30 p.m.

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