Hundreds of students, faculty and staff filled the lobby of the Ross School of Business on Wednesday for #OneRoss, a demonstration showing solidarity and support for international students affected by President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order signed into law last Friday. The order restricts entry to the United States for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, even if they are dual-citizens, and suspends refugee programs for 120 days.
The demonstration lasted about 20 minutes, during which participants — many of whom were students who had left class to attend — packed the stairway and lobby of the Business School and listened to Ross Dean Scott Derue and Business graduate student Jerry Won, president of the Ross Student Government Association, speak. Attendees distributed and wore red pins representing cultural tolerance and racial diversity.
In addition to the demonstration, Business faculty held a dialogue on the ban later in the day featuring immigration lawyers and University of Michigan faculty.
Though no specific plan for the protection of students with refugee status has been released by the administration, as requested by a petition signed by more than 1,400 students, faculty and staff, the International Center issued a statement with recommendations for students who may be impacted.
Echoing sentiments from a statement made by University President Mark Schlissel, Derue stated that there was still considerable uncertainty around the implications of the executive order but reaffirmed solidarity and support, as well as a commitment to keeping the Business School a safe and diverse environment.
“We are from the U.S., we are from Iran, we are from Somalia,” Derue said, mentioning two of the seven majority-Muslim countries from which entry into the United States has been suspended. “We are all global citizens, and we will demonstrate an unwavering commitment to a diverse and equitable community where we can all come together, live together and work together.”
First-year MBA student Rachel DeLeon helped organize the event and told the Daily that the purpose of #OneRoss was to support fellow students affected by the executive order.
“We have classmates that are going to be affected by this,” Deleon said. “We want to represent love and support for (them).”
In an email sent to the Ross student body, Won included a personal statement from Business graduate student Banafsheh Bagheri, an Iranian-Canadian whose travel has been severely restricted.
“If I left the country, I may have to say goodbye to Ross, I may have to say goodbye to the career I have been working so hard on, I may have to say goodbye to the future I’m building for myself,” Bagheri said. “Not being able to leave the country means that I won’t be able to see my family, that they won’t be able to visit me.”
In the evening the Ross Student Government Association organized an open panel to address concerns and questions from the community. Approximately 100 people attended the panel which included immigration lawyers as well as University of Michigan officials and faculty.
The panel advised students, faculty and staff on travel plans and how to address the swift change in immigration policy. Panelists included Michael Carlin, an Ann Arbor area immigration attorney and University officials Donica Varner, from the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, and Scott Manley from the International Center.
The panel began by informing the audience on the definition and scope of an executive order and what this particular order means for University students. The panel discussed how the order essentially revokes existing visas and may have residual effects, disrupting travel plans for those affected into the summer.
The main message to anyone from the listed countries was not to leave the United States, but instead, the panel emphasized vigilance regardless of where students are from. The panel advised travelers to have an immigration attorney on call and told students to carry all forms of documentation that they could — even a transcript.
“We speak to CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officials on a weekly basis and sometimes all they are looking for is that you’re a degree-seeking student in good standing,” Manley said.
Panelists also outlined the logistical grievances of the order.
“Individuals that had to enforce this at the point of entry had no clue,” Varner said. “The confusion and chaos has been in the roll out.”
Later, the room was opened for discussion and the audience could ask specific questions in an effort to quell their uncertainties. Though the panelists could provide helpful advice to some, a common answer was: “I do not know.”
Business senior Michael Yashaya, president of the Ross Student Government Bachelor of Business Administration Council, explained how the immediate implementation of the order was dealt with by the SGA.
“The nature of how everything was executed left us with very little time, but we wanted to make sure that any student who had any questions could attend a forum where those concerns were able to be voiced in front of experts,” Yashaya said.
Some students in the audience declined to be interviewed by the Daily, citing an email that told them to direct all media questions to University officials and the personal nature of the effects the executive order has.
Business graduate student Ricardo Dancuart was concerned about the state of affairs but expressed thanks to the community for all of its support.
“I am not from a country that is having a problem right now, but I am from South America and maybe today I’m all right, but I don’t know if tomorrow there’s going to be a problem,” Dancuart said. “There has been a lot of support from the community, not only from the dean but also from other students. Even from my classmates there were some very nice messages going on. That was a very good gesture from the University and its students.”