Fear and confusion surround President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven countries. The public controversy and legal debate over the President’s order has been intense. However, Southern Utah University wants to reassure those that might be directly or indirectly impacted by the order that SUU is committed to being a welcoming place for students, faculty, staff, and visitors from across the globe. International students at SUU are welcome and valued for the diversity, talents, and unique perspectives they bring to campus.
“We are proud to be an increasingly diverse campus as demonstrated by having now enrolled over 500 international students from 52 countries,” said Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Bradley J Cook.
With a Doctor of Philosophy in Middle East Studies from the University of Oxford, Dr. Cook has a deep commitment to global awareness and international education.
“It is essential to keep in mind the important and far-reaching contributions that our international students, faculty and staff make to SUU’s education and engagement mission,” said Cook. “Our international community enriches the diversity of our campus, expands our learning and deepens our cultural and intellectual life. Engagement with the world is a rising hallmark of SUU and as a member of the SUU community, it has my unwavering support; considering it one of my most important duties as Provost.”
Cook went on to say, “While none of our students are from the seven countries identified by the executive order, we do have some staff and faculty that are. Many more of us, however, have friends, colleagues and family from these countries and find it distressing to the academic ideals of remaining open to the exchange of people and ideas. I believe that universities play a critical role in underscoring fundamental values of open, healthy multicultural democracies.
Agent Nicholas Street, recent SUU alum and Refugee Outreach Agent for the Utah Department of Public Safety’s State Bureau of Investigation, personally witnessed the refugee problem last summer. On a study abroad to Hungary in May 2016, Street worked with the Red Cross on refugee coordination and long-term plans in the country. Now as a Refugee Outreach Agent for the State, Street addresses concerns in Utah refugee communities and assists with resettlement efforts.
Street offered advice for people wanting to get involved and support those currently in need. “Time and money are the two things citizens can give to help local refugees,” said Street. “Having been a poor college student myself, I know that donating money is not possible for most college students. Thus, their time is the most valuable thing they can give.”
Students wanting to help have a few options at hand; make calls to respective elected leaders, reach out to classmates from different countries to let them know they are safe and welcome on campus, and utilize social media to express support.
"Let me take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said SUU President Scott L Wyatt. “We will continue to support our growing international student population and encourage our students to study abroad."
SUU Associate Provost for International Affairs Stephen Allen recalls historical events that can help many students relate to the current situation related to emigration:
“About 138 years ago the controversy over travel bans was about Mormons from Europe. Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and Grover Cleveland made efforts through diplomatic and congressional channels to prevent Mormon converts from coming to the United States. Later, in 1838 the Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issued an "extermination order" and called for Mormons to be exterminated or driven out of Missouri. Throughout the history of the United States we have seen groups targeted in an effort to control emigration and travel.”
For those seeking advice or support, the International Affairs Office is available and will continue to research and provide the latest information in regards to changes in the immigration law. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize SUU's Care and Support Team (CAST, www.suu.edu/cast), the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS, www.suu.edu/caps), the Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI, www.suu.edu/diversity), and the Campus Police (435-586-1911).