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Ole Miss’ Chancellor Vitter makes statement on President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions

While other universities across the country have recently released statements vowing they will not release confidential student records to law enforcement in light of President Donald Trump’s recent restrictions on immigration, University of Mississippi’s Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said the university is waiting for more information before making a definite statement on the matter.

Vitter released the following statement Sunday afternoon:

“As a public international research institution of higher education, the University of Mississippi is focused upon education and the success of our students in a global society.  We are a community of scholars committed to fostering a diverse environment, and we benefit greatly from a strong international and multicultural presence.

“One of our top priorities is a safe and welcoming environment for all our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  However, we recognize that for many in our community, there is significant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty related to recent Presidential Executive Orders.

“We are currently gathering information and evaluating the impact of the executive orders upon members of our university community.  If you believe you are affected, or are uncertain about whether these orders affect you, please contact the Office of International Programs.

Vitter

Vitter

“We value all members of our university community and extend our support to our international students, faculty, and staff during this uncertain time. We call upon all members of our community to support one another.  We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and keep the university community updated as more information becomes available.”

Within moments of releasing the statement, Vitter’s Twitter @umchancellor was filled with comments, some in support of the university’s “wait and see” tactic, and many wanting more clarification with some calling the statement “weak” or “word salad” and challenged the university to take a direct stand.

UM assistant professor JT Thomas challenged people on his Facebook page to ask Vitter the following questions via Twitter: For those concerned about jeopardizing their status or the status of friends/family by logging their issues and concerns, what assurances can the University provide for their safety? What assurances can the University provide that it will not offer voluntarily the residency status of its students or employees to any federal agency unless a federal judicial warrant is presented? What assurances can the University provide that UPD will not ask for the residency status of any individual they may encounter while on duty? In the event that a student or employee is detained by federal authorities on account of their residency status, will the University provide free legal assistance to that individual and, if necessary, their family?

The restrictions on immigration are directed at seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It’s unknown whether any students from these countries are registered at the university for the current school year. According to the latest enrollment data available online from the Institutional, Research, Effectiveness and Planning Department from the 2014-15 school year, there were no students enrolled from the seven countries; however, according to the Institute of International Education, there are more than 17,000 students from the countries effected by the executive order currently enrolled in American schools.

An online petition was formed by a group called Academics Against Immigration Executive Order that has already garnered more than 12,000 signatures, including 7,000 from university faculty members.

The University of Mississippi, or Vitter, have not released any additional information as of press time Monday.