Presidents Of Oregon Universities Decry Trump Travel Ban

By Rob Manning (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Jan. 30, 2017 7:13 p.m.
Portland State University in fall 2016

Portland State University in fall 2016

Rob Manning / OPB

Oregon’s three largest universities, the University of Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State, are pushing back against President Trump’s executive order on refugees and other immigrants.

"All Things Considered" host Kate Davidson spoke to Margaret Everett, Portland State’s vice provost for international affairs and dean of graduate studies, and a recent PSU graduate from Syria, Mahmoud. OPB isn’t using his last name to protect his family and fiancé in Syria. You can listen to the entire conversation above.

All three university presidents have issued statements disagreeing with Friday’s executive order.

Oregon State University President Ed Ray said he's "angry and disappointed." He complained of an "unevenly implemented" order. Ray said it's causing anxiety for what he calls "thoroughly vetted" refugees and others. OSU is recommending its 160 students from the ban-affected countries talk to attorneys before traveling.

Related: Oregon Attorney General Threatens Legal Action In Response To Presidential Executive Order

"Each of these students and employees is a valued member of our university community," Ray said. "To our knowledge, none of these individuals is presently engaged in international travel, and we deeply regret the fear and anxiety they are experiencing."

University of Oregon advises its 39 impacted students to not travel during the 90-day ban. UO said it will still admit students from affected countries – while acknowledging the university can't control a student's visa status.


"We are troubled by the decision of the new U.S. administration to begin a process of closing our borders by indefinitely banning refugees from Syria, placing a 120-day ban on refugees from all over the world, blocking new visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, and signaling a religious test for admittance of new refugees," UO president Michael Schill said in a statement. "The UO is proudly committed to welcoming talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship on our campus."

Portland State University president Wim Wiewel said officials are working with 76 students from the affected countries. Wiewel said the order is having a "chilling effect" not only on those directly affected but other Muslim and international students.

Related: Oregon ACLU Legal Director Says PDX Hasn't Detained Refugees

"Young people from across the world have come to universities in the United States for decades because our higher education system is a global leader in providing educational opportunities," said Wiewel, an immigrant from the Netherlands. "At PSU, our international students provide cultural and academic contributions that are integral to our mission and enrich the campus life of Oregon and domestic students."

Portland State University opened the Fariborz Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science building on its downtown campus in 2004. Maseeh was born in Iran and earned two degrees from PSU before he became an internationally renowned research scientist.

Officials at Southern Oregon University said it has one student from a country affected by the travel ban. Oregon Institute of Technology had one student in the fall term from Iran, but the student is no longer enrolled at OIT, according to a spokesperson.

Late Monday, officials at Oregon Health & Science University said it knew of "eleven residents, fellows and students [who] are potentially impacted by the executive order."

OHSU officials did not know if any of them are currently outside the United States. A statement from school president Joe Robertson emphasized that "all are welcome at OHSU."

However, Robertson acknowledged the difficult position institutions such OHSU find themselves in: "Please know that while we are duty bound to follow the law, OHSU will not facilitate or cooperate with immigration enforcement activities."

Western Oregon University officials sent a message saying the Monmouth campus has a "few members of our campus community from the affected nations." President Rex Fuller said campus officials would not comment on the situation of any particular student other than to say "we are relieved to report that no members of our community are stranded outside the United States because of this executive order."

Fuller echoed the sentiments of other university presidents in Oregon saying he is "deeply troubled" by the executive order.