Letter to the Editor: Student criticizes Rider’s undeclared santuary status

President Donald Trump made a historic folly and changed the course of two hundred years of American history by issuing a presidential order to impose a 90-day ban on travelers and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries: Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia and Syria.

What is even more disturbing is that this hasty action was taken against the backdrop of a grave humanitarian crisis that is currently unfolding in Syria where thousands of people have been killed. By closing its doors to people who are targets of persecution and oppression, President Trump has callously abridged the founding ethos of the United States, which is centered on the notion of religious equality, in favor of a religiously driven, myopic and exclusionary policy. While the long-term consequences of this dangerous course will unfold in a manner that will be nothing short of catastrophic for the democratic soul of America, the immediate impacts have been equally disturbing.

The echoes of this despicable and religiously motivated policy have resonated all over the United States, where courageous leaders from across the spectrum have stood up and voiced their concerns. They have clearly articulated their position by stating that this is indeed a religious ban that has been ill advisedly dressed in the guise of security measures intended to stop unfounded threats of terror.

Many cities and universities have taken the timely step of protecting their residents and attendees by declaring them as sanctuary communities. Yet it is a cause of grave concern to the Muslim student community at Rider University that the university administration did not communicate a timely response to assure its students who feel a pervasive sense of religious persecution.

To be sure though, the president of the university did finally send out communication after almost three weeks; however, it left the Muslim student community in utter disappointment, since it failed to meet the most basic merits of academic freedom by not calling the ban what it really is — a Muslim ban.

The statement danced around the subject by calling the Muslim ban an executive order while deliberately failing to make a mere mention of the only religious minority it exclusively targets, which is the Muslim community on campus. In an environment that prides itself on imparting knowledge, maintaining academic freedom and standing up for ethics and morals, this kind of acquiescence in pursuit of political correctness is at best unbecoming of an academic institution.

The time is now for the Rider University administration to rally around its Muslim student community by protecting them and providing them a sense of reassurance. The history of the United States is writ large with glowing examples of fighting against persecution. It is indeed a sad day when an academic institution of repute, such as Rider University, chooses to hide behind the facade of political correctness instead of standing up for the ideals of protection from religious persecution that this country was founded on.

Even if the university administration will not see this ban for what it really is, the wider Rider community knows exactly what this ban means to one minority and wonders if all minorities are safe on the campus.

— Shanza Arooj

Muslim Students’ Association


Printed in the 2/22/17 issue.

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