By Natalie Johnson
CLAREMONT, Calif. – “Refugees Welcome Here” reads the bright blue sticker on one student’s laptop. At least a handful of other Scripps College students sport this same sticker as they work studiously in the Motley Coffeehouse, the campus epicenter of feminist- and liberal-political thought.
Such statements of anti-xenophobia are commonplace at Scripps in the year since President Trump signed an executive order banning residents from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
In the days following the Jan. 27, 2017 order, college administrators sent emails to all students announcing that the policy runs counter to the values and beliefs of the community. “We aim for pluralism, unity, and equal treatment to all who wish to come to America and be part of the Claremont Colleges community,” the email said. It is unknown how many students were legally affected by the ban.
The Scripps community has positioned itself this year in opposition to Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims and refugees, all typified by the travel ban. Scripps has responded with campus protests, engagement from administrators, and other expressions of activism. The energy demonstrated in the community reflects a national movement of colleges pushing back against Trump’s antagonism towards Muslims.
Deema Douglah, a Scripps senior affected by the ban, recalled her response from one year ago. “I was very upset. I cried because at the time our asylum case was still pending. It felt inevitable that we would get kicked out,” she stated. Douglah spoke with the college’s deans in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, and said she felt supported by the school and Scripps students.
Noor Hamdy, a Scripps senior, leads the charge in campus activism against Trump’s executive order. As President of the Claremont Colleges Muslim Students Association, Hamdy has been a frequent leader in anti-xenophobia campus protests and organizational efforts.
Hamdy was propelled to action in the wake of the ban. “I tried to help in little ways that I could locally, because I knew the consequences were far reaching and largely permanent until policy makers could reach it and rule it unconstitutional,” she said.
Creating a club to support refugees in the Claremont and Pomona area seemed to be the most logical and necessary step to take this year, according to Hamdy. The 5C Refugee Advocacy Network offers workshops aimed at informing Muslim students and local refugees of their political rights. Hamdy herself hosted a workshop this month to provide an understanding of refugee resettlement in Pomona Valley and how students could volunteer.
What is happening at Scripps is reflected on a national level. Colleges and universities identify themselves in opposition to Trump’s rhetoric. In the week following the executive order, 62 institutions comprising the Association of American Universities (AAU) released a statement calling for government officials to end the ban “as quickly as possible.” 1.2 million undergraduates and 570,000 graduate students are represented in the AAU, USA Today reported.
This past January, more than 100 protesters marked the one-year anniversary of the travel ban in Washington Square Park, New York University’s central hub. Demonstrators joined hands to form human chain protecting Muslims as they knelt down in public prayer, Huffington Post reported.
Despite a year of protests and federal courts’ blocks to the ban, a diluted version still went into effect in June 2017 and expired in October. The Trump administration reduced the country’s refugee admissions quota to 45,000 for 2018, the lowest number on record according to CNN.
Scripps’ continued activism will be needed to sustaining the national momentum against Trump’s Muslim ban. Scripps’ reputation as a leading women’s college centralizes it as a hub of upcoming female leaders and liberal thinkers. This April, the Supreme Court will hear Trump v Hawaii to address a third version of the ban, The Economist reported. Until then, the Scripps community will push on combating the Trump’s xenophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Image Credits to Campaign Live UK