URI faculty, staff, students to discuss immigration policy during public meeting, March 22

Event is sponsored by URI’s Office of Community, Equity and Diversity

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KINGSTON, R.I.—March 20, 2017—University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley, along with faculty, staff and students, will discuss the latest immigration policy developments during a public talk this week.

The event is part of URI’s Critical Community Conversations series, informal discussions that focus on sensitive—and sometimes controversial—social justice issues.

“A URI Town Hall Offering Resources and Strategies for Supporting Immigrant Students, Faculty, and Staff’’ will be held Wednesday, March 22, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom, 50 Lower College Road, on the Kingston campus.

Among the other speakers are Naomi R. Thompson, associate vice president and chief diversity officer of the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity; Jay Walsh, executive director of the URI chapter of the American Association of University Professors; Nasser Zawia, dean of the URI Graduate School; Dania Brandford-Calvo, director of the Office of International Education and Services; Bowen Gillie, international admission advisor at URI; Piotr Skuza, an international admission officer at URI; Danielle Dirocco, a URI student and executive director of Graduate Assistants United; and Vanessa Garcia, a URI student and academic chair of the student senate.

Each speaker will make brief remarks and then audience members will be able to ask questions. Speakers will do their best to clarify President Donald J. Trump’s revised travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries and how it affects URI students, faculty and staff, says Joanna N. Ravello, director of community and organizational development in the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity, sponsor of the public forums.

The first Critical Community Conversation was last July and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement. About 10 more events have followed, with topics on everything from Islamophobia and women in politics to the racism faced by black men today and the 2017 presidential election.

“These are sometimes difficult topics,’’ says Ravello. “Our forums create a comfortable space for people to speak openly about controversial issues. It’s hard to talk about some of these things. In these times it’s important to provide a safe place for people from different backgrounds to expose them to perspectives that may differ from their own.”

Other goals of the discussions, she says, are to inspire people to take action and offer guidance to those who are affected by these issues. “We want to encourage people to be allies to those who are in this struggle,” says Ravello.

Trump’s revised travel went into effect Thursday, March 16.

The president’s original ban barred for 90 days people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also barred all refugees for 120 days, and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

After federal judges blocked key parts of the order, Trump proposed the second ban. This ban temporarily bars people from Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Syria for 90 days and refugees for 120 days. Iraq was removed from the list, and the indefinite ban on Syrians was dropped. Also, current visa holders are no longer affected. Under a federal district court ruling in Hawaii, the administration and enforcement of the revised travel ban has been stopped. Specifically, this means all nationals of the restricted countries may still apply for and receive a visa for travel to the United States in the same way they were able to prior to the executive order.

“We see the Critical Community Conversations series as an important step for the University community to achieve its diversity and social justice aims outlined in the Academic Strategic Plan,’’ says Ravello, “particularly around educating the community about systemic and structured discrimination and marginalization of vulnerable groups. We encourage all to attend.”