Forum Addresses Impact of 2016 Election on International Students

Members of the 2016-17 International Student Scholars at Wilson
Photo by Christina Sturgeon

On Sunday, Nov. 20, Wilson College held the “Forum to Discuss the Impact of the U.S. Presidential Election on International Students” at 7 p.m. in Sarah’s Coffee House.

The forum was led by Crystal Lantz, Director of International Scholar Services. It was an informal conversation which gave Wilson students the chance to express their opinions regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s victory.

The event was attended by Wilson students, faculty and staff members. Joining Lantz as moderators of the discussion was Chaplain Emily Morgan and Brie Burdge, AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator for Learning Campus.

Lantz’s opening question: “How are you feeling about our new president?” brought forth many different perspectives.

Talal Alramadhan ’17 considered the new election as a life changing event for many people, including his family.

Alramadhan shared, “People became crazy! When I was with my wife who wore a hijab, people treated us differently since they thought we were terrorists. I do not feel like explaining to people every single time that I am here legally as a student.”

Alramadhan also mentioned that this situation has happened to him several times. “When I got a new car, someone actually asked me where I got the heroin from to get the money.”

Most of the students at the forum agreed that the international population in the United States has brought much profit to the country by contributing their talents and abilities. Yet, with President-elect Trump’s new plans, they were concerned about possible limited exchange between countries, which could affect U.S. international relations.

For example, President-elect Trump plans to end Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 visa students, which removes the additional one-year period after graduation to pursue jobs and gain more experience in the workplace.

Anna Harutyunyan ’17 stated, “I was very surprised and disappointed about the people’s decision. A president is someone who represents the whole country and I could not believe they voted for Trump to be the one!”

On the other hand, French teaching assistant Caroline Belot wanted to understand more about the reason why people voted for the new president. “I really want to understand and get to know people more through their decision in order to sympathize instead of fighting and yelling at each other,” said Belot.

At the end of the discussion, Lantz concluded, “Something will likely change, but since it has to go through Congress, it will take time. It’s not hopeless!”

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