Keeping Kalamazoo welcoming is subject of town hall

contact: Korey Force and Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

WMU, you are welcome here.KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A communitywide town hall meeting is being held Wednesday, Feb. 22, to discuss ways of keeping the Kalamazoo area inclusive and welcoming in the wake of the divisive 2016 election campaign and President Donald Trump's executive orders related to immigration and undocumented workers.

The town hall is set for 6 to 8 p.m. on Western Michigan University's main campus in 1920 Sangren Hall. Those attending may park at no cost in unmetered spaces behind Sangren Hall.

The event will include a panel discussion with a question-and-answer segment, a brainstorming session on what can be done as a community, and an exploration of existing opportunities to get involved with inclusivity efforts.

Scheduled speakers and panelists include:

  • Dr. John M. Dunn, WMU president
  • Lee A. Ryder, WMU director of immigration services
  • Anna Hill, a staff attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center
  • Dr. Diane K. Anderson, WMU vice president for student affairs

The town hall is being organized by several entities at WMU and in the Kalamazoo community. Dr. Wolfgang Schlör, associate provost of the Haenicke Institute for Global Education at WMU, says it is part of a campus "You are welcome here" campaign designed to reduce the anxiety many groups in the United States are now feeling.

WMU response to immigration executive order

Dunn issued a statement Jan. 30 on President Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

In the message, which is available online at wmich.edu/president, Dunn noted that some 100 WMU students hail from the countries singled out in the ban. He called on the University community to let those 100 as well as all of WMU's nearly 1,900 international students know that they are welcome and the University supports them.

One day later, Schlör reiterated that sentiment in an email message to the University's international students, scholars, faculty and staff.

His message included specific suggestions and online links that might be helpful to people affected by the executive order. In addition, Schlör reminded students that if they are feeling anxious, they have free access to trained counselors at WMU's Sindecuse Health Center.

He also has addressed the current climate in a general statement posted online.

"...I am writing to assure you that Western Michigan University is committed to being a welcoming and supportive place for everyone," the statement says. "I want to echo President Dunn's post-election statement and emphasize that all of us in the Haenicke Institute for Global Education and at WMU value the diversity on our campus and in the community."

Additional information

Organizations or groups that would like to reserve a table at the town hall to exhibit community inclusivity efforts should contact Korey Force in WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education at korey.force@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5890.

For more information about the event, visit wmich.edu/global/welcomeatwestern. WMU maps and directions to campus are available at wmich.edu/maps/printables.php.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.