Waves from the Trump administration’s “America-first” moves to discourage immigration have sponsored a sense of unease, reaching even its most coveted harbours – the country’s educational intuitions. Speaking representatives of several prominent US universities, who have been very outspoken on issues like President Donald Trump’s travel ban, say they can sense the unease among student and concerns of parents back home.
Steve Shaw, in-charge of International Admissions at University of Buffalo in upstate New York with 5,000 Indian students, said when he was in India two weeks ago recruiting students, the focus was on recent steps taken by the government.
“This (immigration restrictions) came up. Especially by the parents. Our university, like many others, has spoken out on the ban, reassuring students they are safe and welcome here. This remains an inclusive campus,” he said.
The Trump administration’s travel ban, struck down repeatedly by the country’s courts earlier this year, aimed to keep out migrants from seven Muslim majority countries, throwing lakhs of people into total turmoil.
Rose Pascarell, Vice President, University Life at Virginia’s George Mason University told that levels of anxiety due to the uncertainty have heightened of late. “When the travel ban happened, we noticed students had a difficult time focusing in class. It was tough to think about much else,” she said.
On campuses, the anger, outrage and insecurity are palpable. Kriti Singh, a PhD student, questions the narrative around job losses courtesy Indians. “Jobs are going to people who have skills for them. We have it, Americans don’t. It’s as simple as that,” she said.
Her senior, Shayani Bhattacharya, who recently completed her PhD, doesn’t conceal her anger. “America was all about welcoming people around the world and now they say this diversity is a pollutant to the pool of American people whatever that means,” she said.