The Candid and Controversial series continued on Thursday with a discussion panel about President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
The Candid and Controversial series was started in the fall of 2015 and was intended to give students the opportunity to talk about current events in a setting outside the classroom where they may feel more comfortable to speak openly about controversial topics, Director of the Women’s Center Jodi Solito said.
Student workers help to come up with ideas for the discussions, such as topics that are important to students that they have opinions on, Solito said. Students also help to run the events.
The executive order that is titled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’ affects seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). The order calls for the suspension of the US refugee admissions program for 120 days. The order also calls for a cap of 50,000 refugees for 2017, opposed to the Obama administration’s limit of 110,000. There were nearly 100,000 refugees welcomed into the country in 2016. The executive order has been blocked, as the government did not demonstrate a need for the ban.
The discussion topic centered on the question of whether the ban was protecting the United States or if it was a sort of scare tactic and feeding into racist ideals.
“Why are we banning these majority-Muslim countries?” Graduate Assistant Ashley R. Craig said. “Are we safer, or more paranoid?”
This executive order creates an ‘us vs. them’ mindset, displaying the ‘them’ as bad people who want to harm Americans, one student said.
Solito said the number of hate groups in the country has grown since the start of Trump’s campaign, due to this ‘us vs. them’ mindset. The ban is reinforcing the hatred that people have.
One student said that they did not see why it was the role of the US to bring the light of freedom to other countries when we do not even have that in this country for all people.
Do we just stand back when oppression happens in other countries or do we just chalk it up to a country’s culture? another student said.
“There is a difference between immigrants and refugees,” sophomore political science major Madison Hollins said. “Refugees are people near death who are seeking life.”
Another participant said that they were in favor of a more intense vetting process to get into the United States, and that the US needs to do background checks on every person who is going to enter the country.
“I hate the idea of extreme vetting, as if the vetting process isn’t intense already,” Hollins said.
It can take months for refugees to be vetted, Hollins said.
“75 percent of the Syrian refugees that entered the country were women and children,” Solito said. “The ban has a gendered effect, since many of the refugees are women and children.”
Military-aged males are the demographic that do the most damage. But if you are going to go after a perceived threat, then you have to go after it; it has to be all or nothing, one student said.
If the current administration were to succeed in passing this ban, then they would reach a point where neither side could be peaceful toward the other; it would just entice more hate, a student said.
Another participant said that one reason the executive order was drawn up so hastily was simply to fulfill promises made during Trump’s campaign.
The Candid and Controversial series has new programs about once every month. The series has previously done discussions on Colin Kaepernick and transgender bathrooms. Their next event, on March 21, will be focused on Planned Parenthood and whether or not the government should fund it.