Trump's First 100 Days

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud responds to Trump’s immigration executive order at GSO meeting

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Kent Syverud spoke Wednesday about Donald Trump's new travel ban.

UPDATED: March 10, 2017 at 3:18 p.m.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud on Wednesday responded to a question about President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, saying the United States Constitution makes clear that policies like it are unconstitutional and illegal.

While discussing the ban during an address to the Graduate Student Organization at the group’s meeting, Syverud said the Constitution shows that “blanket decision-making about individuals based on national origin is unconstitutional … it’s illegal.”

Syverud spoke for several minutes on Wednesday about the new ban, which puts a hold on issuing visas for citizens of six countries — Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Sudan — for 90 days, and suspends the United States’ refugee program for 120 days.

The order is a less severe version of Trump’s Jan. 27 ban on travel, with Iraq no longer included. Syverud last month denounced the original ban, which was ultimately shot down in a U.S. appeals court.

Syverud said the revised order will jeopardize the predicament of current international graduate students and students enrolling this coming fall. He said some of the university’s best students have, throughout SU’s history, come from the countries included in the ban.

“And we don’t want to stand down from that history,” he said.

Syverud’s comments Wednesday follow his pattern of expressing support for students from the countries affected by Trump’s polices. Following Trump’s election and the original travel ban, he expressed support for undocumented students and students from the countries included in the first ban.

He also denounced the original travel ban in a statement to the University Senate last month, after two petitions circulated among community members calling on him to do so. He said at the time that SU “simply cannot support or abide by any policy that discriminates against, or makes a preference for, one person over the other based on religion, national origin or other inherent characteristics.”

On Wednesday, Syverud said he’s “struggling” with what steps the university should take in response to the revised ban. He added that he wouldn’t have imagined six months ago that such a ban would be reality.

“But now it is,” he said. “… This is not normal.”

In addition to Syverud’s address, GSO officials also presented their individual reports to the organization.

GSO President Rajesh Kumar followed Syverud to present his report to the organization.

Kumar highlighted the plight of graduate students who are also parents. He said they have trouble with both the affordability and availability of childcare provided by the university’s Early Education and Child Care Center on South Campus.

The center accommodates about 60 children at once and about 170 children are placed on the waitlist that runs up to two years long, he said.

He requested the administration reinstate a past pilot child care subsidy program, which provided $375 per child up to a maximum of $750 per year, while working on creating a permanent solution.

Kumar also described the off-campus security camera installation project, which would install 32 cameras around the immediate off-campus neighborhood, particularly on Euclid Avenue and Westcott Street. The project would be completed in four phases.

External Affairs Vice President Peta Long, in her report provided an update on the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students conference that SU will be hosting in the fall. The ideal dates to have the conference would be Nov. 2-5, with the week after and week before being alternate options, she said.

The body then proceeded to debate GSO Senate Resolution 17.07, which declared the GSO’s support for the off-campus camera project and pledged $1,000 for the first phase.

Members argued back and forth for nearly an hour on issues ranging from privacy, the impact of GSO’s financial contribution, prioritization of off-campus safety and source of funding for the project.

The resolution eventually passed.

Kumar also stated in his address that “the goal behind inviting [the] Chancellor was to build relationship, trust, and work towards to solve problems.”

“We are trying this year to model genuine shared governance,” Syverud said.


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