Boston University filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court along with several other universities last Monday in response to President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, which bans travelers — students included — of six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The same participating universities have filed similar briefs before against the ban, including one in March with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in response to the Trump administration’s first revised travel ban.
BU signed the friend of the court brief along with 30 other colleges, including all eight Ivy League schools, in effort to help the court realize the negative impact of the ban on higher education nationwide, said BU spokesperson Colin Riley.
“It is the University’s hope that students and scholars from the six countries who wish to study, teach, or engage in research in the United States are permitted to do so,” Riley wrote in an email on behalf of BU.
The brief states that the ban “threatens American higher education and offends important, defining principles of our country.”
It also stated that the executive order contradicts the values of U.S. higher education, including freedoms outlined in the constitution. Universities outside of the United States have used the ban as a marketing tactic to drive international students, faculty and scholars away from U.S. institutions and toward theirs, it added.
Additionally, it explained that colleges’ abilities to “foster rich educational environments depends in part on their ability to attract students, faculty and scholars from around the globe.”
With 23 percent of international students at BU, a school that prides itself on this community, the purpose of joining the brief was also to ensure the availability of educational opportunities for everyone, Assistant to the Dean of Students Katherine Cornetta said.
“We wanted as many people as possible to be able to continue studying at BU,” she said.
This is one of the many instances in which the university has taken action in response to the Trump administration’s executive orders banning travel from the predominantly Muslim countries, Riley’s statement said. Previous instances include BU’s participation in the three other briefs filed with different courts countering travel bans.
In order to help affected students, the university leaders have collaborated with the International Student and Scholars Office, to develop a website dedicated to providing resources and updated information.
Other university-run initiatives have included forums with faculty and ISSO staff, which discussed how the travel ban could affect students and scholars and offered professional directions to anyone concerned.
“We just wanted to provide answers for students who think they might be impacted by a travel ban,” Cornetta said.
She noted that these efforts protect both international students and students who study abroad through BU’s many travel-abroad programs.
“We really want to protect the ability for students to have those international experiences,” Cornetta said. “Our department always sees these efforts as protecting the opportunities for everyone.”d
Given the current political climate, Cornetta added that the brief is just one example of efforts put forth by the university as a protective measure for concerned students.
Several BU students voiced their thoughts on the executive order and BU’s action to join this brief.
Second-year law student Genesis Guzman said she appreciates BU’s participation in this brief given its large international presence.
“If they’re doing something like this, it does show they do care for their international students and have respect for them,” Guzman said.
Tabitha Zaragoza, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said she supports the university’s action.
“It’s a good thing that they are standing with other schools to be against that ban,” she said, “I do think they’re obliged to do so.”
Omar Salah, another supporter of the brief, said he believes the travel ban is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court will rule it out as a violation of individual rights.d
“It’s against the American values … and I’m very proud to see our school gathering with other schools to face this,” the law student said.
Salah added that he thinks schools of BU’s caliber owe it to their community to take action and take a stand against orders like this.
“They have influence and therefore,” he said, “they have a responsibility toward society, toward any ethnicity, toward any public policies whether it affects students or prospective students.”