‘You are welcome here’
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Anxiety and fearfulness sums up the feelings of some CWU students on the current political climate.
On Monday, Central Washington University president, James Gaudino released a statement addressing possible concerns for students and faculty.
“Central Washington University welcomes people from all walks of life, from all places on earth. We do not judge people by the origin of their birth, but by the content of their character,” Gaudino said. “We embrace the value of a community enriched by diverse experiences, abilities, and cultures.”
The statement given by Gaudino referenced the executive orders president Trump Last Friday.
One of the orders, halted all immigrant and non-immigrant visas from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
This led to confusion on campus, Gaudino said. He also said that order did not affect any CWU employees but it could affect one student who the university is currently working with to clarify their status.
“I have stated before and will continue to pledge CWU’s determination to protect the freedom and security of students and employees,” said Gaudino. “We are a welcoming community that places the highest value on inclusiveness, free speech, and the open exchange of ideas and cultures.”
The Friday before Gaudino’s statement, CWU International posted a video to Youtube, titled “#youarewelcomehere,” with the same themes as Gaudino’s statements on inclusivity.
“Central Washington University happily welcomes over 500 international students, from 48 countries,” according to the video.
The video which was also posted on Facebook and had comments showing both support and skepticism.
“President Gaudino, your words perpetuate, propagate and promote illegal behavior that comes at a cost to American citizens and your students,” said Wyatt Spithaler, a community member. “Instructional institutions of the state that receive federal funds have to follow federal law. Acting as political pieces is not your job or the university’s.”
This was the theme of several comments that criticized the university seeming to overstep their bounds.
Other comments however, supported Gaudino’s statement.
“Thank you for this announcement for all of CWU,” said Shelby Bryant, a community member. “I am grateful for the inclusivity and diversity of CWU and the statement released encouraging those very things.”
Some members of community even came out showing compassion for students who may be afraid.
“If this is not resolved by this summer and you have students with green cards, fearful of returning to their home country because they may not be able to re-enter for next school year … many of us in the community are willing and able to share our homes until dorms reopen,” said Spring Rae Liles in another top comment.
Overall, the community seemed to be supportive of Gaudino’s statements in some way or another.
Gaudino ended his statement offering students encouragement, and directing them to consider contacting their state representatives.
“It’s easy to feel helpless when change is happening so fast in so many places. You are not helpless. Start by seeking out facts and reading widely. Reach out to people around you to provide support and encouragement,” said Gaudino. “In doing so, you may be encouraged yourself.”