Reed Rallies Around Muslim Community

By Chris Lydgate '90 | January 31, 2017

Students, professors, and staff jammed the Hauser Library today in a show of solidarity with Muslim and Middle Eastern members of the Reed community in the wake of President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven nations in the Middle East.

“Look around this room,” Dean for Institutional Diversity Mary James told the crowd. “I want you all to remember that people at Reed care about our community and they care about you.”

Reed currently has no international students with visas from the seven banned nations, but it does have many students, professors, staff, and alumni with deep connections to the region. In addition, many students from all backgrounds feel threatened by the ban.

Scores of people at the rally wrote posters with messages of support:

“We are one people.”

“You belong here.”

“We stand indivisible with you.”

“No human is illegal.”

“‘Resist’ and ‘welcome’ are verbs. So is ‘love.’”

“We are working hard to develop resources for the community, and we’re planning to hold more events in the next few weeks,” said Prof. Kris Anderson, chair of Reed’s committee on diversity. “This is not just about issuing statements—we need to follow up with action.”

Several professors and administrators have voiced support for Muslim and Middle Eastern students since Friday, when Trump issued the order.

We reaffirm our commitment to an inclusive and welcoming campus, while we condemn the Trump Administration’s Immigration Ban Executive Order as standing in stark contrast with Reed’s values,” Dean James and Prof. Anderson wrote.

Students expressed appreciation for the event. "Community solidarity is an incredibly important at Reed right now," said theatre major Aziza Afzal ’17, who is a Muslim and a Pakistani-American. "Students need to know that their community will defend their rights to their safety and education."

But Aziza also emphasized that rallies have their limitations:

"Solidarity is only effective when those we want to be in solidarity with feel safe and supported. The task is not finished when the show of solidarity is over—that is just the beginning. Check in with the people you are trying to support, and make sure they are receiving the kind of support they want. Signs around campus express kind and loving sentiments, but that might not be what those affected by the ban feel they need. On top of that, media coverage at solidarity events, while often aiming to take a stand and share news with the wider community, can cheapen the expression of solidarity and turn an intimate event into a publicity stunt. By checking-in, solidarity events avoid becoming a self-congratulatory show of support that benefits the supporters more than the supported, and our community learns how to best care each other." 

In November, President John Kroger declared Reed a sanctuary college and promised that Reed would not assist ICE in investigating the immigration status of our students without a direct order from a court. In addition, Reed does not discriminate in admission on the basis of immigration status and meets the full financial need of all admitted students, including undocumented students.

While the legality and the ramifications of the ban continue to play out in court, Reed is working on ways to support students. Reed has compiled a page on its website listing resources on immigration and undocumented status. The Multicultural Resource Center is scheduling a know-your-rights workshop with local immigration attorneys.

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