Immigration ban, secretary of education, alternative facts and resignation
All information compiled from NPR, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, in addition to student interviews. Silver Chips Online posts this summary to provide readers with a forum for discussion
President Donald Trump was elected to office on Nov. 9, 2016 and sworn into office on Jan. 20 2017. In just over a month of presidency, he has instituted many policies directly affecting Blair's students and their families.
Jan. 20 - "Alternative facts"
In regards to Trump's inauguration, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, claimed that the crowd was the "largest ever" and that those who dissented were trying to remove support from Trump's cause. He had no proof to back up either statement: as shown through aerial photos from President Obama's first and President Trump's inaugurations, the crowd at the former was clearly larger.
These "alternative facts", a term coined by Conway in a CNN interview, are a reference to Spicer's untrue remarks about the crowd size. Interviewer Chuck Todd countered, saying that "Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods."
Jan. 27 - Immigration ban
On Jan. 27th, Trump signed an executive order that effectively instituted an immigration ban, banning refugee travel between the US and seven Muslim-majority countries (Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, and Somalia). VISA-holding citizens and residents were also detained in other countries, separated from their families. After numerous lawsuits, federal courts granted nation-wide stays, suspending enforcement of the executive order and allowing travel to resume, while the White House tried to file an appeal.
As an immigrant, junior Iyanu Bishop finds the act to be senseless and an act designed to bring down marginalized groups in the United States. "I'm first generation Jamaican and Trinidadian, my family and I, and my friends in a similar situation could all be affected. He's playing on stereotypes that get immigrants persecuted and killed, getting people of color to live in fear," Bishop said.
In defense of the immigration ban, Conway referred to the nonexistent "Bowling Green Massacre." The massacre was allegedly perpetrated by Iraqi refugees, but was found to not exist at all. Instead, in 2011, two Iraqi nationals living in Bowling Green, Ky. after a failed attempt to send money and explosives overseas to terrorist organization al-Qaeda. Conway faced severe backlash and later admitted to her mistake in a tweet, saying "Honest mistakes abound."
Feb. 7 - Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos
The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education on Feb. 7. For the first time in history, Vice President Mike Pence casted the tie-breaking vote as two Republicans defected. During her hearing, she seemed to be unfamiliar with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), an act that ensures children with disabilities still receive a high-quality education. DeVos is widely known, and widely mocked for supporting gun use in schools for defense against "grizzlies."
Junior Michael Yin expressed his dislike and worry for Devos' career as Secretary. "We do a lot with education policy in county and state SGA. The biggest concern for our student government was Betsy Devos. I don't know if she knows what she is doing, but so far it is not looking good," Yin said.
Feb. 13 - Michael Flynn's Resignation
Trump appointed retired Lieutenant Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, a position which does not require Senate confirmation. On Feb. 13, Flynn resigned citing phone call mishaps. Flynn admitted he misinformed Vice President Mike Pence in regards to phone calls with a Russian diplomat, Sergey I. Kislyak, and sincerely apologized in his resignation letter. Trump's first replacement candidates did not accept the appointment; the candidate he ended up appointing Lieutenant Herbert Raymond McMaster.
Feb. 22 - Revocation of Federal Guidelines for Transgender Students
The Trump Administration revoked President Obama's issued protections for transgender students. The previous guidelines explained that the Obama Administration viewed denying transgender students access to the bathroom of their identity as a violation of Title IX, the law banning sex discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal funds.
Previous guidance was revoked so that the Trump administration could "further and more completely consider the legal issues involved," delegating this policy to the states. Whether students can use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity will likely fluctuate locally.
Mehana Daftary. My name is Mehana Daftary and I am an Editor-in-Chief for Silver Chips Online. I am a member of Blair's acapella group InToneNation and I enjoy singing and reading. More »