Executive order impacts state’s ‘international’ university

Published 3:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2017

The impact of President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel hits particularly close to home for Troy University.

With more than 900 international students from 72 different countries enrolled at the Troy campus, students and university officials are reeling from self-described “anxiety” over the impact of the executive order.

Troy Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. has already spoken about the order twice this week, once through a statement and again on Tuesday through a press conference, where he fielded questions and sought to walk a delicate political line.

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“This is not a lack of support for the administration,” he reiterated on Tuesday.

But, with nearly 10 percent of the student body coming from outside America’s borders, Alabama’s self-proclaimed “international” university is understandably concerned.

The president’s executive order is less than a week old, but already it faces legal challenges and has caused upheaval in the vetting and immigration process.

The executive order, in addition to its 120-day halt on all refugee immigration, put a 90-day ban on entry to the United States by citizens of Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Yemen.

Troy University has students enrolled from at least three of those countries and, according to the chancellor, has students from two of those countries seeking to enroll.

For now, the enrollment is paused. And the university officials are urging students from those countries not to leave the United States and encouraging all international students to avoid unnecessary international travel.

Troy University officials have worked diligently for decades to cultivate and develop an international culture, focusing on growing the international enrollment and diversity at the Troy campus. The programs have brought much acclaim and recognition to the university, but now bring caution and concern for the students; their families; and any faculty or staff who have travelled here from international locations.

Any lasting impact of the executive order likely could affect future enrollment at the university., and that is a concerning fact as we believe the efforts to broaden the university’s borders have benefitted both the school and the community.

For now, the chancellor’s advice holds true: stay calm, and stay put if possible.