Bard and Botstein Respond to “Muslim Ban” With Much-Needed Clarity



President Botstein responded Sunday morning to Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

Botstein’s letter addressed the ban that would threaten immigrants from seven targeted nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Americans and foreigners alike remain confused by Trump’s logic regarding which countries are on or off the list, assuming any such logic exists.

According to CNN’s “Fareed’s Take,” Alex Nowrasteh from the Cato Institute, (a conservative think tank founded by Charles Koch) tallied the number of Americans killed by citizens of the seven banned countries from 1975-2015. Each country’s number was zero. No majority-Muslim nation with a Trump hotel or business was included on the list.

Despite the ambiguity of the origins of the ban and how it will be implemented, President Botstein’s response was anything but nebulous. “Bard will support and protect students without reference to their immigration status,” he wrote in a message sent to the entire student body.

“Bard will admit students in a non-discriminatory manner with regard to religion, race, and national origin. Bard supports the BRIDGE Act and will continue to admit and support undocumented students.”

The BRIDGE Act is bipartisan legislation proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), which would allow immigrants to stay in the United States and work for a period of three years.

Though he did not outrightly condemn Trump’s executive order, Botstein made it clear that Bard would take part in national, inter-collegiate attempts to weaken the president’s ban on immigration. He stated his commitment to welcoming students of all backgrounds to apply to and attend Bard.

President Botstein ended his letter with a dose of personal history. “I am an immigrant, a naturalized citizen whose family came stateless to this country. My deep patriotism for America is rooted in that experience. That patriotism is attached to the laws and ideals of the United States.”

Trump touted the early success of the ban; he said, “It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports. You see it all over. It’s working out very nicely and we’re going to have a very, very strict ban.” Meanwhile, confusion erupted at airports throughout the country, as officials struggled to understand when and how to suddenly enact Trump’s ban.     

Bard students in transit on Saturday witnessed the chaos of the detentions and subsequent protests first hand, including junior Madison Emond, who was returning to JFK from a Bard study abroad trip in Rome. “When I got off the plane, the first thing I heard about was the protest happening outside the airport,” she said.

Emond further described her chaotic homecoming. “My first experience on U.S. soil since Trump was inaugurated was an act of resistance to his bigotry; it was electrifying to see, but a huge wake up call that made his presidency feel real and tangible,” she said. “I hadn’t been able to comprehend it until that moment.”

While Trump’s first acts as president have worried many, Botstein’s opinions on this immigration ban might provide a bit of much-needed relief for concerned students.

He blatantly criticized Trump’s nationalist rhetoric and actions: “We cannot now permit our country to return to the America First isolationism of the 1930s and redefine itself as place of xenophobia, intolerance, and discrimination.”   


Photo by Madison Edmond at JFK international airport/ Bard Watch.

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