By Caroline Panchelli, news correspondent
A group of approximately 70 students and faculty gathered on Centennial Common Thursday for a peaceful protest against President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban.
The protest was held by the Iranian Student Association of Northeastern (ISAN), an organization dedicated to creating a community for people on campus with Persian backgrounds. The event was part of a nationwide protest, in which other colleges and universities across the country held similar rallies supporting those affected by the ban. The Northeastern protest came a week after most due to the snowstorm last Thursday.
“We are worried about the future,” said Soodi Milanlouei, one of the organizers of the event and a graduate student in industrial engineering. “We want to make sure that the university is supporting us and we want people to know exactly what is going on.”
The executive order, issued in January, barred entrance into the United States for immigrants, refugees and green card holders from seven Muslim-majority countries. It sparked nationwide controversy, with protests erupting across the nation after hundreds of people were detained at American airports.
“The last time I visited Iran was almost six years ago, so I was planning to go back during spring break to see my family,” said Sahar Keshavarz, a post-doctoral chemical engineering research assistant. “But I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to come back.”
Keshavarz said she got many heartwarming messages from professors, other researchers and students who said they are concerned about the situation. They told her the ban doesn’t represent their idea of safety or security of the country.
Protesters brought signs to the rally with slogans such as “I’m a scientist, not a terrorist” and “Education, not deportation.” ISAN members also led chants at several points throughout the protest, shouting “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here!” and “No ban, no wall, justice for all!”
Professor Bahram Shafai, an ISAN adviser, said the travel ban “creates a culture of fear and stress” among students who must worry about their international status and their families at home on top of academic obligations.
Northeastern Provost James C. Bean also spoke, saying that despite the challenges arising with the ban, faculty and students alike need to keep finding new solutions.
“There are some very emotional issues involved in this for all of us, not just the directly affected students and faculty,” Bean said. “We need to all recognize what we’re fighting for here.”
Photo by Lauren Scornavacca