Students express concern about travel ban at Tony Frank open forum

Rachel Telljohn

Colorado State University president Tony Frank’s open forum on Tuesday afternoon was largely dominated by student concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump’s recently imposed travel ban.

Three Colorado State University students have been identified as trapped in their home countries or unable to travel back to the United States because of the ban.


“It’s a very unfortunate situation, it’s a very fluid situation,” Frank said.

Frank and Mark Hallett, senior director of International Student and Scholar services, explained that the university is doing all possible to help the three students stuck abroad.

Hallett said his office is indebted to Dr. Frank, and other university officials, for pushing those students to be a top priority. Student legal services is in the process of contracting an immigration lawyer, according to Hallett.

Four students, including two international students and Daniela Pineda Soracá, president of Associated Students of Colorado State University, spoke during the forum about the implications of the travel ban on CSU students.

“(Students from the countries included in the ban are) being targeted as the wrong people,” said Farshad Abdollah-Nia, a physics PhD student. “None of us from any of these countries have done anything wrong.”

Abdollah-Nia asked Frank if the university has any events or plans in order to educate the student body about the countries affected as they are related or not related to acts of terrorism. Abdollah-Nia said that the community, thus far, has made him and other international students feel welcome.

Farshad Abdollahnia speaks to Colorado State University President Tony Frank during an open forum on Tuesday afternoon in the Lory Student Center. Students were able to ask Frank questions about the school, voice concerns or comment about CSU’s performance. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

Hallett was able to offer an upcoming event surrounding the controversy of the travel ban. On Thursday, in the Lory Student Center at 12:30 p.m. and in the University Village Center at 6:30 p.m., an event will be held to discuss the implications of the executive order. Hallett said a support group could come out of it.

“We just need to get (those students stuck abroad) back,” Hallett said.

Frank said that the students who spoke about the issue of international students within the university should not feel sorry for spending so much time talking about it during the forum.

“It’s one of the major issues occupying the American consciousness right now,” Frank said.


Frank reiterated the importance of International Student Services as a community for all affected students.

Events like the In Solidarity Event, of which Hallett was in attendance, serve as a way for students to be engaged or to promote advocacy, according to Hallett.

Frank spoke to what the university can do in the current climate as, simply, a university.

“There’s nothing that we can’t talk about (as a community of scholars),” Frank said.

Frank explained the university is on firm ground in advocating for education at the university and that there is a broader conversation to be had.

Pineda Soracá responded, to the students that expressed concerns, with different ways ASCSU can serve as a support network for those affected students and the student body as a whole.

“There are a lot of students here that are here for you,” Pineda Soracá said.

Pineda Soracá encouraged students to come to ASCSU in order to express opinions or concerns and shed light on voices that may not otherwise be heard on campus. A resolution will go forth in the ASCSU senate this week showing support for the people working to bring those three students home, according to Pineda Soracá.

The open forum with Frank has been held since the spring of 2009. Frank said he does not usually get too political during the forums.

“It’s a complicated time for us as a society,” Frank said.

Collegian reporter Rachel Telljohn can be reached at or on Twitter @racheltelljohn.