By Brian Edsall
On Jan. 30, President Yellen delivered a memorandum about President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. Yellen stated in his email that this executive order “has caused a great deal of alarm and confusion across the country and in our own college community.” Yellen advised students from the seven countries specified in the executive order to “postpone all international travel until further notice.”
Despite Yellen’s attempt to calm the Marist community, students and faculty still yearn for conversation. “I think President Yellen’s message was necessary, and it should be expected from his position of leadership,” said Marist professor Dr. Addrain Conyers. “However, if we’re fighting to be an inclusive campus, then we need to make sure that voices are heard.”
The Center of Multicultural Affairs at Marist College is open to talking with those affected by this executive order, and Yellen has encouraged others to join him in offering “full support to our international community members during this challenging time.”Some students believe that it is crucial for Yellen to remain neutral with any controversial issue.
“I want consistency and a leader that puts Marist students first above all,” said senior Joseph Guida. “I believe that email is the best way for Yellen to reach the Marist community, so long as his messages do not take political stances.” Guida continued, “President Yellen must lead Marist and support the community in an unbiased manner. If he embodies this way of leadership, then Marist will grow much stronger as a community.”
Conyers and Guida agree that an open forum between students, faculty and the administration would be effective so long as all sides are considered, and the exchange of ideas is productive and calm. “There has to be room for debate, there has to be room for civil disagreement, but it has to be civil,” said John Blaisdell, Head of Safety and Security at Marist. Blaisdell encourages students to approach him or other members of Marist security with any issues or concerns. Like many others, Blaisdell also believes that answers will only happen through collaborative effort.
Marist’s values statement attests that the college is a “diverse community united by a shared commitment to the free exchange of ideas, consideration of the opinions of others, and civility in all of our interactions.” According to Marist College Public Affairs, the class of 2020 is “the most diverse class in the history of the College” with “more than 22 percent of the class identifying as students from traditionally underrepresented groups.”
Despite attempts at acceptance, students and faculty members can attest to having experienced discrimination on campus. “My freshman year my friend and I were walking out of the Rotunda to the Lower New Houses and two guys were yelling at us from the window trying to talk to us. When we didn’t respond, they yelled ‘f*** you n******’…which was ridiculous,” said Ashley Haynes, senior at Marist College and President of the Black Student Union.
“There was one time that someone thought I was a maintenance man,” Conyers said. “I’m educated enough to nicely correct people; it’s nothing prevalent, nothing that happens all of the time, but it does happen occasionally.” Conyers added, “We need to educate our students on inclusion from the day they come in as freshmen. I really think changing the culture, hitting the students when they come in as freshmen and throughout their whole time here, would really make a profound difference in just helping people feel accepted.”
Students and faculty agree that Marist College needs to become more aware and involved with controversial events regardless of the individuals or groups affected. A collaborative effort is necessary to create solutions and uphold the values of this school.