Photo Courtesy of Antonio Harper
From left to right, Mohammed Khoja, an MBA student at CSU, Harlan Smith, director of CISP, Dr. Oya Tukel, associate dean of the College of Business and Malek Khawam, preisdent of SGA answered questions and concerns about the immigration ban at the town hall meeting.
February 28, 2017
SGA hosts town hall, discusses immigration ban
By Abby Burton
Cleveland State University’s Student Government Association held a town hall meeting to discuss the travel ban issues by President Donald J. Trump Tuesday, Feb. 14 in the Student Center, which allowed students and faculty to ask questions and voice concerns to SGA and the Center for International Services and Programs.
Malek Khawam, president of SGA, said he believes town halls are a more effective way to reach out to people. He also said the event attracted a good turnout of students and faculty.
“I think that we answered a lot of technical questions, more so,” he said. “I think it’s difficult to have those conversations about what it means to people and how they feel and how we want the world to look in the next 15 to 20 years, but I think we were definitely able to comfort people’s concerns by answering these technical questions.”
Khawam said he believes it is important for students to know that their university cares and have people to talk to during instances like this immigration ban.
“We wanted to essentially make the international community and those individuals who might be affected by the [immigration] ban feel like they had support and that we are here for them, and that in any instance, we were going to look out for them,” Khawam said.
“We wanted to have a conversation about what we want the world to look like,” Khawam said. “There are people that agree and disagree with the ban, and I think it’s important that both sides understand where they’re coming from.”
Also representing SGA at the town hall was international student Mohammed Khoja. He felt particularly proud of the event as he is an international student from Saudi Arabia and has many friends affected by the travel ban.
“We had a lot of people come and around 50 faculty and professors, which was very good,” Khoja said. “I mean I really didn’t expect this number but that means these people care about what’s going on, they are about international students here on campus.”
Harlan Smith, director of CISP, represented his office at the event. He said he was overall pleased with the crowd, but felt like some questions that were asked were unable to be answered at that time.
“There are many questions that remain unanswered and some of them can’t be answered because we don’t know the government response and we don’t know what will happen with the travel ban,” Smith said.
Smith said there were a lot of constitutional questions asked such as where and when students can protest and how students are able to protect themselves, which was a surprise to him because he said he felt there was a passion in the room that went beyond what he expected.
Smith said that he feels that students feel as though they can open up more to CISP and other offices on campus after this meeting, but he did one more special thing at the town hall to show international students where they can go.
“One of the things I did near the end of the meeting was asked all of the faculty and staff to stand up because I wanted students to know who their allies were and where the safe places were,” Smith said.
SGA plans to hold another town hall similar to this one, but with more of a focus, after spring break is concluded. But, if you have any questions before then, SGA and CISP ask that you reach out to them.
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