Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Unity March participants show support for international members of Michigan Tech community affected by travel ban executive order

Videos and photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now

Carrying signs and flags participants in Michigan Tech's Feb. 9, 2017, Unity March demonstrate their solidarity with international faculty, students, staff and families affected by Donald Trump's Jan. 27 Executive Order 13769. Some marchers wear a white article of clothing as a sign of peace. (Photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Undaunted by frigid temperatures, wind and snow on Feb. 9, 2017, about 300 people joined together at Michigan Tech for a Unity March to show support for friends, professors, students, neighbors, and colleagues from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen. They marched in solidarity with Academics United rallies around the country in opposition to Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769, issued on Jan. 27, 2017 -- a travel ban against immigrants and visitors from these seven Muslim majority countries.

Participants first gathered at the Husky statue on campus, where Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz addressed them with words of welcome and encouragement.

Gathered in the center of campus, Unity March participants listen to a welcoming talk by Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz.

"This is not a protest; this is a celebration," Mroz said. "It's a celebration and a support of the things that we value."

Michigan Tech University President Glenn Mroz greets faculty, students, staff and community members gathered for a Unity March to show support for international faculty, students, staff and families affected by Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769 against immigrants and visitors from 7 countries. Click on YouTube icon for larger video size. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Stephanie Tubman, geoscientist and former Peace Corps volunteer, who introduced President Mroz, noted the importance of carrying the flag in the march.

"Today we carry these flags as a reminder that this country should be for all of us, that immigrants have long contributed to the Copper Country and to our country in general, and that we believe that opportunity for all is a fundamental value of the United States," Tubman said.

Following the welcome from President Mroz, Scott Marratto, Michigan Tech assistant professor of philosophy, spoke about the diversity in the campus community and the need for universities to stand up for democratic, secular values that make that diversity and openness possible.

Scott Marratto, Michigan Tech assistant professor of philosophy, speaks about the important role of universities in supporting diversity and values of truth, openness, tolerance and non-discrimination. Erika Vye, recent Ph.D. graduate in geology, leads the participants in singing "This Land is Your Land," as they begin the march.

Setting out two-by-two, the marchers walked across campus and down College Ave. on the sidewalk to the miner's statue near the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce,

Marchers walk peacefully in a very long line from campus down College Avenue toward downtown Houghton.

After arriving at the miner's statue, marchers return to campus via College Avenue. Passing cars honk in support. Enjoying the snow, several children accompany their parents in the march.

Mojtaba, an international graduate student at Michigan Tech, participated in the march.

"It was not a protest -- just a peaceful march supporting international students and faculty and the value they bring to the community," Mojtaba said. "Enforcement of the order nationwide was temporarily halted by court order, but the news talks about a new ban that will be signed by President Trump on Thursday, instilling incredible fear in all of us."

Sue Ellen Kingsley of Hancock also commented on the march.

"It was gratifying to see the large number of people that showed up in spite of the bitter cold," Kingsley said. "I'm so glad to see how many of us, including the university administration, favor the diversity of our community and commit to defending it."

Michigan Tech has signed a letter the American Council on Education (ACE) circulated to  US higher education institutions regarding the recent executive order on immigration.

The letter is addressed to US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly. The body of the letter expresses US higher education’s principles concerning international students, researchers, faculty and staff.

Michigan Tech has launched a new web site regarding President Trump's Executive Order. Click here to visit the site.

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