Student Government passes resolution in support of Muslim students

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Student Government President Kevin Helgren answers questions about Assembly Resolution 17. The resolution, which passed by a unanimous voice vote, is to formally show support for the Islamic community on campus.
Photo Credit: Chase Karacostas | Daily Texan Staff

On Friday, 110 Muslim students, faculty and scholars at the University came face-to-face with a crushing reality—they couldn’t go home.

President Donald Trump barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely and ordered a temporary ban Friday on all Muslims from entering the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. 

The University responded to Trump’s Muslim ban with a statement from UT President Gregory Fenves on Sunday in support of the Muslim community. Fenves urged the University to value its diverse community and for the affected students to refrain from international travel.

On Tuesday, Student Body President Kevin Helgren fast-tracked Assembly Resolution 17 to echo Fenves’ sentiments and reflect SG’s desire to stand in solidarity with the Muslim students at UT. It passed unanimously. 

“Muslim students on our campus don’t always feel safe or welcome,” Helgren, a neuroscience and psychology senior, said. “The burning of a mosque in Texas (and) the killing of six innocent Muslims practicing in a mosque in Quebec, Canada are a few examples. The legislation that I wrote and submitted this afternoon is very
simply in support of Muslim students at the University of Texas.”

Helgren said the spirit behind the resolution was to make a strong and undeniable blanket statement that Student Government stands in solidarity with the Muslim members of the University of Texas community.

The legislation focuses less on Trump’s executive order by nature, and more on how UT is going to respond to the fact that Muslim students on this campus are directly and negatively impacted by it, Helgren said. 

Administrative director and philosophy senior Adit Bior said the legislation is geared towards Muslims because the seven countries listed in the executive order were predominately Muslim countries. 

“In terms of the climate of our nation right now, it’s very clear that the hostility is going towards Muslims,” Bior said. “For instance, Sudan was on the list, and South Sudan wasn’t on the list. Sudan is a predominately Muslim country, whereas South Sudan is a predominantly Christian country. It’s important to know that this is very clearly targeted towards Muslims and towards Muslim students.”

Helgren added that Donald Trump said he would give priority to Christian refugees at the end of this
vetting process. 

Chief of Staff and government junior Isaiah Carter, chief of staff and government junior, said as an African-American student, he knows what it feels to be ostracized. 

“I think (the resolution) is going to make them feel more safe,” Carter said. “We live in a state right now where a majority of the population, you know, did vote for a person who initiated that, and sometimes it’s kind of hard to find your safe haven and your sanctuary. I think UT does a very, very good job at providing a safe sanctuary for people who can feel marginalized. It’s done the same thing for me.”

SG plans to pass further resolutions to present tangible ways for students to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community.