American U admin not a fan of Trump's birthright citizenship stance

Students at American University received an email from the school’s vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence Sunday regarding Tuesday’s midterm elections and the “national climate of tension and uncertainty.” 

American University Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw sent an email focusing on the various news events that happened during the month before the midterm election and reflecting on the likelihood of increasing emotions due to the election, urging the campus community to come together and reflect on the university’s values. The email also discussed the resources available to students who feel apprehensive, alone, or need help processing their emotions. 

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“With the coming elections sure to amplify emotions, I’d like to ask that we pause for a moment, take a collective breath, and consider what is important to all of us,” Aw said. “I hope we can consider how we can come together, even as we respect our differences. Let me start by reaffirming our longstanding commitment to respect and support the human dignity and rights of all members of our community, across race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, political ideology or party, nationality, and immigration status.”

But the administrator’s email also contained much more partisan language, specifically with regard to President Donald Trump signaling that he could sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship.

“There has also been provocative talk about unilaterally ending birthright citizenship,” the American University vice president said. “This talk has deeply disturbed people across the political spectrum. Our identity as a nation of immigrants and AU’s history as an institution that values global perspective and understanding are the firm foundations on which we stand up for immigrants and international members of our community.” 

The email also touched on gender identity, which has become another recent hot-button topic given the Trump administration’s proposed changes to Title IX. 

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“The discussion about rolling back rights for trans people comes in the wake of consistent efforts to reduce protections for a population that already faces discrimination and violence,” Aw said. “Both a commitment to human dignity and a commitment to the pursuit of truth through rigorous research are core to who we are as a university and central to the mission of all universities.” 

Despite all of this, Aw did acknowledge “differing views on campus,” which, she added, is “good and healthy.”  

“The commitment to explore diverse ideas lies at the heart of our institutional mission and enables us to exercise our civic responsibility in a democracy. But while we have varied opinions, we also share a set of core values, and among those are that we respect each other’s right to exist and be treated with dignity.” Aw said. 

One American University senior, who asked to remain anonymous, wasn’t surprised to have received the email, saying it was not the first time such emails have come from Aw’s office. She said that Aw sent a similar email on Sept. 28, regarding the Supreme Court Nomination of Justice Kavanaugh. 

“The AU community preaches tolerance and acceptance to anyone who is not conservative,” the student, who is a terrorism and security studies major, told Campus Reform. “Where is our counseling center or center for diversity and inclusion? Oftentimes I do not feel I can express my viewpoints or my political standings in the classrooms, dorm halls, or academic buildings here at AU without being attacked or persecuted for values that may differ from the majority.”

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While the university does have both a counseling center and a Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the student clarified that, typically, these offices are geared towards movements such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Me Too,” social justice issues,  and LGBTQ issues. 

“So [this] leaves out everyone else,” the student said, adding that she is fearful of what will follow Tuesday’s elections. 

“When President Trump was elected, an American flag was disgracefully burnt on the steps of the Mary Graydon Center [AU’s student life building]. When a staff member tried to take the flag away from the student, an altercation arose, and this led to the suspension of this faculty member. I am fearful this may happen again if Republicans maintain [a] majority,” the student said.

“I deserve to feel included on this campus. I deserve to feel safe on this campus. I deserve to be heard on this campus. Sadly, AU does not meet these standards for me, a conservative female,” she added. 

American University did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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