By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
The international community has been struggling this year, owed to the executive orders of President Trump and the uneasy climate he has caused surrounding immigration and Islamic culture.
It has affected people as far away as Saudi Arabia and Japan, and as close as Dartmouth.
Last month, President Trump’s immigration standstill interfered with the lives of two UMass Dartmouth professors, causing them to be detained at Logan International Airport following an academic conference in Paris.
This was a giant alert to the UMass Dartmouth community, and shed light on the way foreign people were being viewed and treated. The biggest worry was not merely the impact on traveling professors, but on international students as well.
Depending on where international students come from, they might not be able to easily go home and come back, and their parents may be barred from entering the United States at all.
Additionally, although UMass Dartmouth is a campus of acceptance, the university clarified their stance against the executive ban and with their international students. The current political climate left room for ignorance and there have been reports from campuses around the country of heightened tension regarding race relations.
The Graduate Student Senate (GSS) observed these concerns and decided something must be done to show support for students who might feel unwelcome on campus. Vice President Mike Savaria suggested that students and faculty should come together to sign a banner showing support and welcome for these students.
On Tuesday February 7, a banner signing was held in the Grand Reading Room of the library. It was a place where students, faculty and administrators could gather and tell of their experiences with fighting discrimination, accompanied by tea and coffee.
There were four different banners for signing, each unique in their design and message. One featured inspiring quotes from George Washington and Frederick Douglass, the namesake of the campus building.
Another was more fiery, with the header “Welcomed at UMass Dartmouth”, and a checklist of all who are welcomed. Every race and sexuality was checkmarked, but “Bigots” were condemned to a red X.
More quotes were found on a third poster, this time concerning education. Nelson Mandela and Confucius were the focus of this one, but students and staff wrote more education positive quotes on it themselves.
The last was a word cloud of all the values UMass Dartmouth stands for. Important values such as racial justice and gender equality stood out among them, as they are tense topics in today’s America.
The banners will be placed around the school, not only to display what Student Government stands for, but the whole campus.
Interim Chancellor Helm put it best in one of his campus-wide emails, “The strength of our university is directly linked to our diverse community of faculty, staff and students and to our shared engagement in creating and transmitting knowledge that enhances lives.”
The banner signing continued this message, emphasizing that the campus must use each other as a resounding strength in this troubling time.