George Brown College reacts to U.S. travel ban

Student Association board passes motion against Islamophobia

On Jan. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, causing chaos at borders and airports around the globe.

Two days later, a gunman entered the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec and opened fire on the assembled faithful, killing six and wounding 19.

While the executive order was overturned by a U.S. court, Trump signed a new order on March 6 halting visa processing for 90 days for travellers from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya. The order is set to go into effect on March 16.

George Brown College (GBC) students can rest assured that they have their school in their corner. The message from every level of staff and faculty is unified and it is unwavering—you are valued here, you are not alone and we will be there for you.

“I cannot state more definitively that we stand in solidarity with our Muslim students, faculty, staff and the wider Islamic community, both in Canada and abroad,” wrote GBC president Anne Sado in an email sent to students and faculty on Feb. 13.

Sado’s email said that due to the uncertainty, “some areas of the college have decided to hold off on travel to the U.S. for industry visits or field placements for the time being.”

A U.S. consulate-facilitated meeting with students to address concerns regarding cross-border travel was scheduled for March 1. The session was cancelled by the consulate for unspecified reasons.

Sado’s message of solidarity was quickly mirrored by the Student Association (SA), which funds The Dialog. At the SA board of directors meeting on Feb. 13, a motion passed condemning Islamophobia and reaffirming a commitment to “stand in solidarity with Muslim, racialized and refugee communities.”

These higher-profile statements emphasize support from the very top on down. But that support is just as enthusiastic from the staff who are on the front-lines for the students most likely to feel targeted by a hostile political climate.

“We’re here to help,” said Ashley Sullivan, manager of international student integration and support at GBC’s international centre. “We’re here for them and we stand with our students to make sure that they are able to get connected with the resources that they need.”

While all students can seek out counselling and guidance through the counselling department, Sullivan added that international students can receive tailored counselling addressing the unique needs and concerns they face every Thursday at the International Centre.

“We have respect for diversity. In fact, it really is our strength at George Brown; it makes us the college that we are,” said John Porter, director of international admissions and student services. “It’s not just something that we say, I actually really believe in it, and I think a lot of people who work here and study here believe that too. So we want to have that positive message against all that’s happening.”

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George Brown College reacts to U.S. travel ban