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Faculty Senate votes to oppose travel ban

Photo by Tess Sheets/The Minaret

By ARDEN IGLEHEART

The faculty senate voted to oppose the travel ban on Feb. 24, with a motion that condemns the travel ban as against the values of higher education. The vote was passed with 64 percent of senators in favor, 27 percent opposed, and nine percent abstaining.

The faculty senate is a body of professors from each college and one library employee elected to represent the faculty to the administration of UT.

Emilio Toro, associate professor of mathematics and faculty senator, proposed the motion. He believes the travel ban could prevent students or professors from coming to UT.

“The university advocates that they have students from near 100 countries, and they also have faculty from a huge number of countries working here,” Toro said. “So, potentially it could affect the students that come here to visit, the faculty that come here to teach or the students that come here to study.”

Toro doubts that the passing of the motion will affect any policies UT will put in place, but said that it has symbolic importance to show that the faculty supports the free exchange of ideas and recognizes that the travel ban is detrimental to that.

The motion reads in full, “The majority of the Faculty Senate of the University of Tampa rejects and opposes the recent travel restrictions imposed by the White House under executive order as being injurious to the free exchange of ideas and detrimental to the aims of higher education. Furthermore, we resolve that this motion of the Senate be provided to The Minaret and the Office of Public Information for dissemination to the community at large.”

Gregg Bachman, professor of communication and president of the faculty senate, said it is unusual for the faculty senate to consider motions based on U.S. political actions. He did not know of any motions considered in the past that were about politics.

Arlene Acord, assistant professor of business law, voted against the motion. She supports the motion’s intent, but said that it is not the role of the faculty senate to speak for the faculty on a political issue. Acord said that the wording of the motion is partisan and that a motion that didn’t mention the travel ban, but instead said that the university values a diverse student body, would have been better.

I feel we could have issued a much more appropriate and positive message, accomplishing the same purpose but in a much more dignified way,” Acord said.

The president and provost released a statement via a Global Message on Jan. 30 emphasizing UT’s commitment to internationalization, but it not explicitly condemn the travel ban. Toro said he did not want his motion to simply repeat the sentiment of that statement, and he does not believe that the motion is partisan. The faculty senate, Toro said, is taking a stand against the travel ban because it could directly affect UT.

“The senate is simply endorsing the free exchange of ideas. The political decision was made in Washington. This has nothing to do with a political decision. It’s just, for the university, this type of decision may not be good. It’s not a political statement in any way.”

Ziyad Ashukri, a graduate finance student from Libya, supports the motion. His parents, who live in Egypt but are Libyan citizens, were going to come to Tampa for spring break, but decided not to come at the announcement of the travel ban for fear that they would not be allowed in the country. They are still afraid to come despite court rulings against the ban.

Ashukri believes that the ban is against the American value of being open to immigrants.

“Such a ban hit one of the core American values very bad,” Ashukri said. “Not only me but everybody who has empathy should be disappointed.”

Arden Igleheart can be reached at arden.igleheart@theminaretonline.com.

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