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Macalester prepares for Trump administration

One month after the presidential election, Macalester is readying itself for a Donald Trump administration.

The college is in advanced ongoing discussions with its attorneys and faculty members on possible policy changes in conjunction with potential Trump administration actions.

Director of International Students Programs Aaron Colhapp said in the meeting that the school met with officials from ICE — Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement — last week. Macalester is exploring all current guidelines around international student VISAs, DACA — an Obama administration policy concerning undocumented students — and more.

Ailya Vajid, the school’s Muslim Chaplain, said Tuesday that the primary concerns amongst Muslim students on campus are the possibility of a Muslim registry, and the possibility that they will not be able to re-enter the country after Winter Break.

Residential Life has been approached about providing housing for concerned students during break, but the school may also reach out to faculty, staff and local students to host international students as needed.

Macalester is also engaged in what was termed Tuesday “Worst Case Scenario Planning,” looking ahead to a potential scenario in which Trump follows through on some or all of his nativist campaign proposals.

On a more immediate, educational level, the school is planning to respond to recent events in a significant way.

Macalester is planning to devote the first two days of next semester, January 19 and 20, to a “teach-in” around the election and the divisions and frustrations it has exposed on the campus. Trump is set to be inaugurated that Friday.

The political science and environmental science departments came together through the Civic Engagement Center to lead the planning of the event. Its exact parameters are still being defined, but students and faculty will be encouraged to participate as they see fit.

The aim is for the teach-in to go beyond the scope of what happened in November. As College Chaplain Kelly Stone said in her remarks to the faculty, “Much of this pain… existed long before the election.”

Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, the school’s Dean of Multicultural Life, said Tuesday that, “Our students’ inability to engage each other across difference has become crystal clear.”

For some on campus, the election of Trump — and what he represents — has served as a wakeup call. For others, it’s merely a confirmation of what they already knew to be true. It’s a divide that has been tensely exposed in recent weeks.

During a talk last week in Kagin, New York Daily News columnist and social justice activist Shaun King was challenged by a group of black students on the content of his presentation being targeted at the white and non-black students in the audience.

“There will be anger,” MacDonald-Dennis said, “because some students will be saying, ‘I’ve been living with this for a long time.’”

Several other, smaller measures to promote student safety have been taken in the last month. SAFEWalk’s hours have been extended to 4:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. each night.

Moe said that the school will have more specific policies and instructions for faculty before Trump takes office on January 20. We are only at the beginning of what is set to be an extraordinarily tumultuous chapter in the college’s long history.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited from the original version in print.

December 9, 2016

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