EWU Community Came Together to Show Support of Immigration

By Logan Stanley, Staff Reporter

A student-organized rally was held in the campus mall Tuesday at noon in response to President Trump’s recent executive order regarding immigration.

The order — which indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., suspends all refugee requests for 120 days and denies citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen) entry into the U.S. — has drawn a slew of bipartisan outcry and has spurred protests across the nation.

EWU President Mary Cullinan, Ph.D., issued a statement during the rally where she attempted to assure protection for students.

“Moreover, our university will continue to welcome and support students, regardless of immigration status,” said Cullinan. “And the university is committed to the privacy of student records, for all students.”

The subject of debate is whether or not EWU should become a sanctuary campus, which are institutions that implement policies to protect undocumented immigrants.

Declaring sanctuary campus status could jeopardize EWU’s potential to receive federal funds as President Trump has issued an executive order that cuts off federal funding to sanctuary cities and possibly to public universities who do not comply.

Currently, EWU has not claimed sanctuary campus status after denying a petition that was submitted to the Board of Trustees in 2016.

Logan Camporeale, EWU graduate student and rally organizer, said he felt compelled to set up the event after feeling what he called frustration when he first heard of the executive order.

“It seemed like an easy way we could all come out and show our support,” said Camporeale. “There’s not a particular organization I’m affiliated with, just a group of concerned students that decided ‘hey, let’s see if we can make this happen and show those populations that are vulnerable that we support them here.’”

The rally featured several speakers who all spoke out against the executive order.

One speaker, Majid Sharifi, Ph.D., EWU associate professor of political science, told his story of immigrating from Iran to the United States back in the early 1970s. Sharifi used the story as an illustration comparing how it was then and how it is now.

Sharifi cautioned that while people may think that the situation (U.S. foreign policy) was “bad” in the past, the situation is far worse right now than it has ever been.

“At the time, I thought things were so bad,” said Sharifi. “So bad. Because of course Iran was messed up, in a sense politically, partly because of U.S. foreign policy … Now, so many years have gone, I’m well-off, I’m a citizen of this country, I’ve been here so long, I feel apart of the country. But, things are worse. I’m sorry to say that, things are worse than ever before.”

Following Sharifi’s speech was the President’s Committee on Diversity (PCOD), which is comprised of various EWU faculty. PCOD sets up programs, events and initiatives in the name of promoting diversity. One of these committee members, Sarah Dalrymple of the English Language Institute, spoke prior to the rally on her thoughts about the recent executive order issued by President Trump.

“I think [the executive order is] really harmful to our students,” said Dalrymple. “I think it’s discriminatory. I think it’s heartless. Our students are scared, confused as how to find help. They’re separated from their families; their families can’t come here, they can’t go back unless they give up their studies.”

Through EWU Global, which oversees the international student services, the university currently has students from four of the seven countries that are currently barred entry into the U.S. (Iran, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). Under current federal rules, if any students from those countries were to leave the U.S., they would be denied re-entry, even if they are on a student visa.