Last Tuesday, Feb. 21, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Union’s Chief Diversity Officer Gretchel Hathaway sent an email to all Union students announcing the existence of the Advisory Council on Global Affairs. As Hathaway noted in her email, the Council was formed, “in response to the Presidential Executive Order regarding travel,” and is meant to help students, faculty, staff and other members of the Union community understand and deal with the new restrictions.
The Council is composed of six members of the college administration in addition to Hathaway: Lara Atkins, Director of International Programs; Michelle Pawlowski, International Student Advisor; Jason Benitez, Director of Multicultural Affairs; Eric Noll, Chief Human Resource Officer; Peter Bedford, Professor of Religious Studies/Director of Religious Studies; and Viki Brooks, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life.
During a meeting with the Student Forum, Hathaway explained that the reason the entire council is composed of administrators is for confidentiality’s sake, since students and faculty who go to the Council may want their situation to be kept confidential. Thus, all the administrators on the Council have experience handling confidential information.
As mentioned above, the Council was formed as a reaction to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 “Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” executive order, which temporarily prohibited entry into the United States from anyone coming from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Two days after the travel ban was enacted, President Stephen C. Ainlay sent out an email to the entire campus community, recognizing that the ban, “undoubtedly had an impact on some of our students, faculty and staff,” and indicating that he, “asked Gretchel Hathaway, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, to coordinate our relevant administrative offices and help those community members who need our assistance.”
Ainlay also expressed concern about, “any policies that make the exchange of ideas within and across that community [of international scholars] more difficult,” and advised members of the Union community whose travel plans might be affected by the ban to hold off on travel until the ban is better understood.
The creation of the Council means that such members of the community now have an administrative entity which can help them work around the travel ban. In addition to being a group of administrative staff who are able to help students and faculty directly, the Council has a website which lists sources of information to better understand the ban and resources for students and faculty.