UT Leaders Respond to White House Travel Ban

After the White House temporarily banned citizens of seven countries from entering the United States last Friday, UT leaders and the community responded with messages of support for students, faculty, and staff who are affected by the executive order.

UT President Greg Fenves released a statement on Sunday noting that the ban has potential consequences for 110 students, faculty members, and scholars. They are citizens of the seven affected countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan. Fenves encouraged those who are currently in the U.S. to refrain from traveling internationally and urged those abroad to be cautious.

“To achieve our mission at UT, we value a diverse community, a community that includes all of us—students, faculty, and staff members,” Fenves said. “And as a university of the first class, we attract many of the brightest individuals from around the world. The talents that brought them to UT are deeply valued, and their perspectives represent an essential part of the university.”

Following Fenves’ statement, UT System Chancellor William McRaven, BJ ’79, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, also voiced concerns about the executive order. He said leaders in Washington, D.C., must “move quickly to clarify the intent of this order, bring reasonable and expeditious process to its implementation, and send the message to the rest of the world that the United States remains open and welcoming to those who want to come here to learn, work and to live the American experience.”

Other Texas university leaders released statements to their schools, including Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. With more than 250 members of the A&M community from one of the seven countries, Young said welcoming people from “countries around the globe … is a core tenet of who we are and has enhanced our academic excellence immeasurably.”

After the executive order was issued, UT student Navid Yaghmazadeh carried a sign around campus that read: “I am from Iran. I am a student. I am not a terrorist. I am not scary.” He said in an interview with KUT that he wanted people to notice him and see he is someone personally affected by the order.

“I want to tell them, ‘Hey, we are like human beings all of us and there is nothing to be scared of about us.’ So, that’s the whole point,” said Yaghmazadeh, who is in the U.S. on a multi-entry student visa. According to KUT, if he leaves within the next 90 days, per the current ban, he will not be let back in.


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