Iranian students at Ohio University joined students from more than 50 other campuses nationwide to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The Iranian Student Society organized the rally at OU, and similar demonstrations took place Thursday at noon at schools across the country. Multiple speakers addressed a crowd of approximately 100 students, faculty and Athens residents in below-freezing temperatures and snow outside Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
The purpose of the rally was to raise awareness of how the executive order affects people not just outside of the United States, but within, Ali Asghari Adib, a member of the Iranian Student Society and an organizer of the rally, said.
“This is a concurrent movement across the country,” Asghari Adib, a graduate student studying biomedical engineering, said. “We are one of the universities supporting the rally. We want to raise awareness of the executive order on our lives.”
Organizers asked for attendees to wear white to the rally and they passed out white balloons. The color is meant as an outward sign of peace, Ali Khaledi, a Ph.D. student studying physics, said.
“It was really good to see all these people in terms of support,” Asghari Adib said. “I’m glad we could share our stories, and maybe they’ll tell their friends. This way we can get our voice to the public.”
One of the speakers was Joe McLaughlin, the chair of Faculty Senate. Faculty Senate passed two resolutions Monday regarding Trump’s immigration executive order. One resolution called on OU officials to drop the criminal charges against students arrested in during a sit-in at Baker on Feb. 1, and the second urged OU’s administration to condemn the ban.
“This is something we had to do,” McLaughlin said. “People in our community are hurting. … We want them to know we’ve got their back. This affects all of us.”
The Iranian Student Society will hold fundraisers to support the legal costs of students arrested during the sit-in last week. Students were arrested while calling for a sanctuary campus, which limits university cooperation with federal immigration services. Khaledi thanked the students who stood up and got arrested on behalf of him and his friends.
Asghari Adib said he wants a strong response from the university and requests the declaration of OU as a sanctuary campus.
“We are hoping to receive a stronger statement from President McDavis in support of us,” he said. “The previous statement just said not to leave the country, which we know. We want to know the university supports us.”