Well over 100 students and professors rallied Thursday under the flagpole in the Circle to show opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.
A local branch of Academics United organized this demonstration in conjunction with other college campuses across the nation.
Many Ole Miss students and faculty members there said they had already been personally affected by Trump’s executive order.
Graduate student Saeed Arab is completing his fourth year of a Ph.D. in engineering science at the university and said he must now put his graduation on hold because of the ban.
“I just hope for a day when everyone can be treated equally,” Arab said. “A day when people are judged by their intentions and actions, not by their religion or nationality.”
“We are a diverse group of students, post-docs, and employees attending universities all across the United States,” Academics United said via Facebook. “We all have dreams of not only receiving the best education possible, but also serving the nation that has granted us this valuable opportunity.”
The group organized through social media sites to contact students all over. To protest the ban, Academics United planned marches and demonstrations on 52 American college campuses this past week.
Legal battles and protests have crowded the two weeks since Trump signed an executive order banning 218 million people entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to major news outlets.
The order was signed Jan. 27 and has been denied, blocked and restrained by a slew of courts nationwide, culminating with a federal appeal court’s refusal to reinstate Trump’s ban Thursday.
Thursday’s ruling is the first from an appeals court on the travel ban, the highest court to rule on the ban yet. The decision will likely climb the appeals ranks and pass to the United State Supreme Court, which still only seats eight judges. A tie at this level would mean this appeal court’s decision stands.
Graduate physics student Mir Emad Aghili said he was left wondering whether he would be able to see his family again.
“There are a lot of innocent people that are affected by this ban,” Aghili said. “We all just want to complete our academic studies. We cannot see our families. We don’t know what to do.”
Aghili’s family lives in Iran and usually visits him in America during the summer. However, since the ban lasts until late April, Aghili said he fears his family will not be able to make the trip.
“When I called my mother after the order was signed, she was crying,” Aghili said. “She won’t see me for at least another year. Now I just have to stay until I finish my degree, and that could take a long time.”
Faculty members joined the students in protest by speaking from the makeshift podium of the Circle’s flagpole. Professors of religion, science and more offered unity to the student crowd and a strong opposition to Trump’s order.
Religious studies professor Mary Thurlkill addressed the crowd with a strong vindication of the Trump administration.
“This order is shameful,” said Thurlkill. “This is not what America is. Families have been divided. People have been stranded. This is absolutely shameful.”
The crowd held their chants as they listened to each speaker. Two students stood firmly holding hands, and others cried as these professors offered their support in fighting the travel ban.
Physics professor Marco Cavaglia assured the crowd they would have the his support.
“You are not alone,” Cavaglia said. “There will be people helping you. We will overcome.”