The Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy hosted an open forum on Thursday to discuss President Trump's executive orders and the effects they could have on USC students.
The discussion, led by Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III and Dean Emeritus Geoffrey Cowan, featured a panel of distinguished USC faculty, including Sally Pratt, vice provost for graduate programs; Cynthia Martinez, executive director of USC Annenberg Advisement and Academic Services; Tony Tambascia, executive director of USC's Office of International Services; and Noon Salih, Annenberg Media Center News Fellow.
One prominent theme during the discussion was the many unknowns. Even though President Trump proposed a travel ban during the campaign and subsequently signed the executive order shortly after he took office, the panelists said they couldn't predict how the order will affect USC students.
"It's a moving situation. We can't pretend that we know it all because we don't know it all," Pratt said to nearly 50 students and professors.
The seven countries listed in President Trump's travel ban are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. Of all universities in the United States, USC currently has the second most student visas issued to students from these countries, according to the Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy.
Though the executive order currently affects people from these predominantly Muslim countries, members of the USC community are concerned the ban will negatively affect all Muslim students.
"To a large extent, all Muslim students, domestic and international, are worried about what this means," Tambascia said. "Not just for the current restrictions but for the climate within higher education."
Responding to the many expressions of concern that have been voiced at USC, the panelists unanimously echoed the University's commitment to support all students, regardless of religion or nationality.
"USC doesn't admit students based off of citizenship or visa status," Martinez said. "We believe that everyone has value that's admitted to the University."
Dean Wilson, who was relatively quiet during the event, offered his final thoughts to the USC community, especially those who are worried about Trump's executive orders.
"This is a tough situation," he said. "But as depressing as it can be for international students and domestic students, just keep in mind that this is not a one-step journey."
Reach staff reporter Zack Kreisler here.