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Assistant Professor of History Ziad Abu-Rish addresses those attending the “Need to Know: Student Rights in a Changing America” panel discussion that was held on Feb. 10.

Assistant Professor of History Ziad Abu-Rish addresses those attending the “Need to Know: Student Rights in a Changing America” panel discussion that was held on Feb. 10.

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Panel discussion addresses executive orders affecting international students

Ohio University’s Center for International Studies hosted a panel discussion on Friday, Feb. 10, in order to provide information and answer questions related to the recent executive orders affecting international students.

“What should I plan to do after my graduation?” asked one student who is on track to graduate at the end of the spring semester. “Is it your advice to go home or not to go home?” 

“What is the best thing to do if I am stopped by the police?” another student asked.

One student who is not from any of the seven countries named in one of the executive orders was planning to travel home in the summer and asked if that would be all right or if those plans should now be put on hold.

Center for International Studies Director Steve Howard led the panel discussion and explained that he knows many students, faculty and staff are anxious about the executive orders and have questions about how they will be affected. Some of these people are from the seven countries listed in the executive order, but many are not.

The discussion, which was held in Walter Hall and attracted a crowd of approximately 80, was organized to give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn more about the executive orders and participate in a discussion about the issues surrounding them. The panelists spoke in general terms because of the need to thoroughly review each individual’s circumstances before advising. International students were encouraged to schedule follow up meetings with advisors in International Student and Faculty Services.

Krista McCallum Beatty, director of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) at OHIO, served as one of the panelists and encouraged all international students with questions to talk with their ISFS advisors.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that you talk to someone about your individual circumstances,” McCallum Beatty said. Each case is different and the advisors are available to help students. 

In some cases, it will be best for an international student to seek legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, for example, is one place to look for legal assistance.

Many in the audience also had questions about the protests of the executive orders and issues involving the protests.

Assistant Professor of History Ziad Abu-Rish served on the panel and encouraged students to know their rights if they are stopped at an airport or anywhere else. He and others at the event also spoke up for the Ohio University students who were arrested at one of the protests on campus related to the executive order.

Kimberlee Francis, a staff attorney for the Center for Student Legal Services, also served on the panel and cautioned international students about the risks of getting arrested at protests or other events. She and others at the event said they do not want to see any arrests or other actions lead to students not being able to remain at Ohio University.

“Err on the side of caution,” Francis advised. “You are a great benefit to the university. You are a great benefit to the community. We don’t want to see you go.”

Abu-Rish said he is proud that students, faculty and staff at Ohio University and around the country are responding to the executive orders and other actions.

“I think we are in a very critical political moment,” he said.

Many students are faced with the potential of not being able to go home to see family members, take part in weddings or travel for academic reasons due to the fear of not being able to return to the U.S. due to the executive orders. In other cases, family members are unable to visit students here at OHIO because of the travel ban and the uncertainty around it.

To talk with an ISFS international student advisor about questions related to the executive orders, please call 740-593-4330, send an email to isfs@ohio.edu or stop by the offices in the Walter International Education Center.

For additional information about the executive orders, Ohio University created the new website Updates on Immigration Executive Orders and OHIO Actions to provide easy access to resources for its students, faculty and staff.

This article was provided by the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies.