Missouri S&T hosted an open forum last Tuesday, Feb. 7, regarding the recent executive order instituting a travel ban to select countries. Representatives from the university discussed the impact on international students currently studying with the university and accepted questions from those students to gain a better understanding of how to help them.

At the time of the meeting, international students planning to stay within the country weren’t expected to run into any issues. The problem is when a student wishes to travel over one of their breaks to visit their families overseas. The moment these students leave the country, they will not be allowed to return to finish their studies. Approximately 117 students at Missouri S&T are currently affected by the order, denying access to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Representatives from the university included Dr. Larry Gragg, who gave a brief history of executive orders in the United States and an explanation of the current entry ban. Dr. Gragg also mentioned the university’s history of welcoming international students affected by executive orders and the support they have been given in the past.

When Japanese-Americans were crowded in internment camps, Dr. Gragg explained, they were allowed to apply to colleges. The Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, now Missouri S&T, gladly accepted these students who attained high scholastic and athletic honors within the school. Dr. Gragg and the rest of the university attendees expressed their wishes for this positive relationship with their international students to continue, and shared their willingness to work with the students to meet their needs in the coming months.

William Elliot, the Director of International and Cultural Affairs, followed Dr. Gragg by highlighting the process these students have already gone through, in order to gain access to the country and study at Missouri S&T.

“It is also a process that goes through quite a bit of vetting,” he said. “You have students who have to show proof that they can come to the United States, that they can pay their own way here, that they can study and then return home when they’re done. They have to go through a very rigorous interview.” Students from a country affected by the travel ban already had a lower chance of being awarded a visa compared to students traveling from European countries, according to Elliot, who said the number could be as low as 30%.

After all the work these students have gone through to study here in Rolla, the university wanted to reach out to them and let them know, not only are they welcome, but the university is here to help. The representatives answered questions from the attending students while stressing the fluidity of the situation. The key element of the forum was for the university to gain a better understanding of the specific challenges and fears these students are facing in order to create a better plan for moving forward. Dr. Jeanie Hofer, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the Office of International and Cultural Affairs, helped answer some of these questions.

“You have a lot of support here at Missouri S&T,” she said. “Everybody who’s here…is here to support you. We very much feel like you’re welcome here and we continue to want you to be here with us. We’re going to go through this storm with you every step of the way.”

After hearing the specific questions from students affected by the travel ban, the university hopes to be able to provide more accurate aid in the coming future.