MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Less than six months into a new position at West Virginia University, the Vice President for Global Strategies and International Affairs has been operating staff around the clock since President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a travel ban on seven nations whose majority populations are Muslim.
“For us at WVU, we have around 127 students currently enrolled who are from those seven countries. In terms of faculty, we have 12,” noted William Brustein during an interview with Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews “Talkline”.
Trump’s executive order, signed on Friday, immediately blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days.
Syrian refugees are indefinitely barred from entering the United States.
“They are fine as long as they are here. What’s not certain, and things are truly fluid, is what would happen if they decided for family reasons or personal reasons or business reasons to leave the country,” said Brustein regarding the status of foreign scholars.
A federal judge issued a stay to stop the removal of those detained.
Brustein was part of OSU’s administration when the university opened offices in Shanghai, Mumbai and Sao Paulo. He said the executive order doesn’t do anything to help universities recruit and form international academic relationships.
“It’s the perception out there, the perception that the United States is not that friendly to foreigners particularly from certain regions of the world,” said Brustein. “I really am worried that it will have a negative effect on our recruitment in the short term. I’m just hoping in the long term we’ll be able to recover from this.”
At the time of his “Talkline” interview, Brustein said there were no reports of students or faculty members in transit or overseas trying to get back to the United States.
WVU reported having 69 students from Iran, 27 students from Libya, 13 from Syria, 13 from Iraq, four students from Yemen and one from Sudan. There are no Somalian students enrolled.
“I would just counsel individuals from those seven countries who are here, who are on campus, whether it’s our campus or other campuses in West Virginia, to stay in place, to consult with an attorney,” Brustein advised.
His office will host an informational forum for the students and staff impacted by the travel bans.
“We’ll try our best to answer the questions during the forum. But, we’re going to be 24-7, my office. As questions arise and come in we will definitely respond to them in the best we can,” said Brustein.
The forum is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. this evening in the WVU Mountainlair.