Me­mo­rial woos stu­dents hit by Trump ban

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON/ATLANTIC -

A New­found­land univer­sity says the re­sponse has been over­whelm­ing af­ter it waived ap­pli­ca­tion fees for stu­dents from the seven pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries tar­geted by a tem­po­rary U.S. im­mi­gra­tion ban.

“Phone calls and emails are just flood­ing the of­fice,’’ Noreen Golf­man, provost and vice-pres­i­dent of aca­demics at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity of New­found­land, said Tues­day in an in­ter­view from St. John’s.

“One of our se­nior staff is work­ing 24-7. I’m afraid he’s go­ing to burn out.’’

Golf­man con­firmed Tues­day that the school has re­ceived dou­ble the num­ber of in­quiries it usu­ally gets from stu­dents in the United States since Don­ald Trump was elected pres­i­dent Nov. 8 — and she said there was an­other spike af­ter he an­nounced the ban on Jan. 27.

So far, the school has waived the $120 fee for at least 54 ap­pli­cants.

Golf­man said she is not aware of any other Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties cur­rently mak­ing a sim­i­lar of­fer, but she has heard oth­ers are ex­pected to follow Me­mo­rial’s lead.

Most of the in­quiries from for­eign-born stu­dents are com­ing from those with Ira­nian citizenship. On cam­pus, Ira­ni­ans rep­re­sent the largest group of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, next to those of Chinese de­scent.

In ad­di­tion to stu­dents from the seven coun­tries, Me­mo­rial made the same of­fer to Amer­i­can stu­dents.

Golf­man said the univer­sity wanted to re­spond quickly to Trump’s ac­tions.

“Fol­low­ing on the heels of Canada ad­mit­ting (so many) Syr­ian fam­i­lies, this is a log­i­cal ex­ten­sion of all of that,’’ she said.

The school is­sued a state­ment Jan. 30, say­ing it was deeply con­cerned about Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der, which pre­vented in­di­vid­u­als from the seven coun­tries from en­ter­ing the U.S. for 90 days.

Trump’s ac­tions pose a “sig­nif­i­cant threat to the free flow of peo­ple and ideas and to the val­ues of di­ver­sity, in­clu­sion and open­ness, hall­marks of a strong and healthy so­ci­ety,’’ the state­ment said.

“Our univer­sity com­mu­nity is stronger, more vi­brant, in­no­va­tive and pro­gres­sive be­cause of the di­ver­sity of the peo­ple who choose to en­gage in teach­ing, learn­ing and re­search ac­tiv­i­ties here.’’ The univer­sity’s state­ment said the or­der has af­fected in­ter­na­tional stud­ies, aca­demic con­fer­ences and in some cases fam­ily re­la­tion­ships in New­found­land and Labrador.

Though Trump’s or­der has been sus­pended by a U.S. court, Golf­man said the univer­sity has no plans to lift its of­fer.

She said the ges­ture could mean a great deal to stu­dents spooked by the de­cree, which ap­plies to peo­ple from Iran, Iraq, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men.

“It’s an anx­ious time for a lot of peo­ple,’’ she said.

Mean­while, the univer­sity is look­ing into of­fer­ing firstsemester schol­ar­ships to those af­fected by the ban.

As well, the univer­sity is en­cour­ag­ing all stu­dents and fac­ulty trav­el­ling to the U.S to first con­tact the In­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion Of­fice, say­ing its im­mi­gra­tion ad­vi­sors are avail­able to pro­vide ad­vice on ob­tain­ing visas, study per­mits or other im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ments.

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