More than 100 George Fox University (GFU) students and staff walked out of their classes on Jan. 30 to protest President Trump’s barring of refugees from seven Muslim countries.
At noon, students surrounded the Centennial Clock Tower in the center of campus, raising signs with slogans such as “We won’t accept Bigotry and Xenophobia thinly disguised as ‘making America safe again,’” and “Refugees are not terrorists.”
Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 that prevented refugees from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia from entering the United States for 120 days.
Trump posted a statement on his Facebook page on Jan. 29 to justify his executive order.
“My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months,” said Trump. “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.”
Students during the walkout expressed concerns about the order encouraging discrimination against Muslims, and chanted during the protest: “No hate. No fear. Everyone is welcome here.”
An anonymous student started a chat group on Facebook Sunday to help inform students about the collaboratively organized event.
“There is this culture of hate in this country and more specifically in this school,” said the student. “There are many people who just feel that they don’t belong here. That is because of the result of the election year.”
The student stood with the protestors during the Jan. 30 walk-out, holding a sign that read, “Get to know a Muslim refugee.”
“Until you get to know that person,” said the student, “you’re not going to realize that he’s just another human being that is bleeding red like you.”
An email was sent to various students describing the nature of the walk-out.
“In light of the executive order ban on Muslim immigrants and general racism,” said the message, “There will be a walk-out/stand…to show solidarity; that we care.”
Protestors also called for a recognition the rights of minority groups and the LGBTQ+ community.
“We really wanted to come and show solidarity with the minority,” said Jessica Nordhagen, a junior. “[And] Show support for Black Lives Matter, the LGTBQ, and the refugees.”
The walk-out was the product of the effort of many students, and was not organized by the University, but staff members also joined the event.
“It’s really imposing on college students that are here that have come from foreign countries that are on a student visa,” said Theresa Schierman, financial aid counselor for GFU.
Schierman expressed her concerns for the transfer students at GFU who could be affected by the executive order, and said that she was proud of the students holding the walkout in response.
“There is already a wall,” said Schierman. “And it’s called bureaucracy.”
Brad Lau, vice president for Student Life, sent an email to students on Jan. 30, sharing a letter written by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) to President Trump to “reconsider” the executive order.
“While we are always open to improvements to our government’s screening process,” said the CCCU. “We believe that our nation can continue to be both compassionate and secure.”