WATERVILLE — In response to President Donald Trump’s controversial travel order, Colby College President David A. Greene has released a statement saying the college is reaffirming its obligation to support and protect its faculty, staff and students from other countries and that “tailored assistance” will be offered to those affected.

Meanwhile, about 100 people — Colby students and others — gathered Monday evening outside Waterville City Hall downtown to loudly protest the immigration order.

“Our message is we are a community that supports immigrants,” Adrienne Carmack, a junior from Colby and one of the main organizers of the event, said as the crowd was still gathering shortly after 5 p.m. Monday. “We value diversity of religion.”

“And we will keep resisting for the next four years,” she added.

In a message posted Sunday on the college’s website, Greene cited the importance of education in a democratic society and the world, saying the leading role of colleges and universities in the U.S. is effecting positive global change.

Trump’s executive order temporarily bans most citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. It applies to migrants and U.S. legal residents from those seven countries and to refugees from around the world, but orders from federal judges have called for the travel ban to be temporarily halted.

“With that in mind, I want to be clear about Colby’s values and obligations to our immediate community and to the important role higher education plays in our democratic society and the world at large,” Greene said in the message.

“Colby College has an enduring commitment to welcoming talented students, faculty and staff from around the world and to engaging in educational and scholarly work on every continent. As always, our first obligation is to support and protect the rights of all members of our community. The recent executive order has focused our attention on those among us who might be adversely affected by this change in policy and we are offering tailored assistance based on each individual’s circumstance. Please contact us if you know of members of the Colby community who would benefit from our outreach.”

Kate Carlisle, Colby’s director of communications, said Monday she didn’t immediately know exactly how many foreign faculty, staff and students are at the college or how many may be affected by the ban, but was working to gather those numbers. Carlisle did say, though, that slightly more than 10 percent of the 2,000 students at Colby are on student visas.

“Colby is acting on the information we have to provide targeted assistance to members of our community who may be affected by the executive order,” Carlisle said.

“We value our international students, and that global diversity contributes every day to the robust intellectual growth of our community,” she said.

DOWNTOWN PROTEST

Carmack, who is majoring in women’s gender sexuality studies and education studies at Colby, sent out an email Monday inviting people to “join concerned citizens across the country to challenge Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries and all refugees from Syria, affecting countless American citizens, as well as individuals with legal immigration status.”

She and others gathered outside Waterville City Hall at 5:30 p.m.

Bob Lorenz, a resident of Sidney, said he heard about the event through Facebook. He had a meeting to attend in Sidney later in the night, but wanted to make time to see the protest.

“The only option is to voice what we think our country should be,” he said while the crowd was still filling up.

Aaliyah Bell, a senior at Colby, said she had been thinking about dreaming a lot lately and how people collectively dream. She said this is a way to help understand people with different values, but chastised the Trump administration as going against everything she had learned.

“It’s a necessity to be here,” she said.

During the nearly 30-minute-long demonstration, there were a handful of speakers who either gave remarks or lead the crowd in songs and chants. Carmack said the demonstration didn’t have to end at the steps of City Hall and urged those in attendance to begin calling their representatives in Congress with emphasis on Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who Carmack said was one of the most important Republicans in Congress.

When Carmack mentioned the name Betsy DeVos, the controversial Trump selection to be the U.S. Education Secretary, the crowd booed.

“Don’t boo. Call Sen. Collins,” Carmack said.

She said it is a right for everyone there to speak with their elected officials and urged them to use that right. “We will protest every day if we have to,” Carmack said.

Rachel Isaacs, rabbi at Colby College and Beth Israel Congregation, spoke of solidarity and standing up to the Trump administration. She said the Jewish community stands with its “Muslim sisters and brothers”and said Trump’s ban was “unjust and unconstitutional.”

“The ban is un-American,” she said.

Muheb Esmat, a Colby student here on a student visa, said he and his family immigrated from Afghanistan. He said he was born in a civil war and experienced what a regime was like, but he said he is “one of the lucky ones.”

“If someone wants to go this far from home, they have a reason,” he said.

Cecil Brooks, a senior at Colby originally from New York, said he was inspired by seeing so many people turn out, because it helps keep momentum going. He called himself a “product of immigrants” and said he found the ban “stupid and confusing.” He said now there is an even greater need for people to speak out against injustice and the violation of a person’s rights.

“Don’t be afraid to be as loud as you can,” he said.

Meanwhile, Colby government professor Lindsay Mayka said Monday that ordained ministers, social workers, professors from Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges and others plan to stop by Sen. Susan Collins’ office at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Augusta to urge her to take concrete actions to stop Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

“We are opposed to the executive orders because they are damaging for American national security, break up families, and do not reflect American values,” said Mayka, whose work is in the area of Latin American politics. “Very few of us have been involved in politics until these recent events, but feel the need to act now.”

GLOBAL PROGRESS

Greene’s message over the weekend says Colby must also consider broader principles that form the core of the college’s mission and the fundamental values of the country’s higher education system as the federal government enacts changes to immigration policy.

“America’s colleges and universities are the envy of the world because of our commitment to free inquiry, to educating talented students from here and abroad, to populating our distinguished faculties with leading thinkers from all corners of the globe and to scholarly collaborations that result in groundbreaking discoveries and improve the human condition,” Greene said in his message. “The leading position of our institutions of higher education and the positive impact they have on global progress are threatened by broad-based policies that restrict access to them.”

Greene said he will be working with colleagues across the U.S., as well as with federal policy groups, to do all he can to ensure Colby and fellow colleges and universities can “maintain our openness and essential commitment to being worldwide centers of intellectual exchange and instruments of societal advancement.”

In November last year, Colby faculty and staff urged that the college be a “sanctuary center of higher education” that ensures students be protected from deportation and receive legal guidance if necessary in light of Trump’s pledge at the time to cancel a program protecting undocumented youths when he was inaugurated. Trump vowed to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals instituted by President Barack Obama by executive action in 2012, but the new president hasn’t yet acted on that earlier pledge. The DACA initiative gives undocumented youth a temporary reprieve from deportation among other protections, helping hundreds of thousands of people lawfully work, obtain driver’s licenses and bank accounts and travel.

A letter dated Nov. 16 and signed by 113 Colby staff and faculty members said there are DACA students at the college, though it was not known how many. The letter asked how the college would provide for the safety and security of the college community members who may lose protections for their immigration status or face other serious problems. It urged Greene to make arrangements that would ensure the students who were welcomed to Colby and promised financial aid would continue to receive such support.

In response, Greene wrote a letter pledging the college’s commitment to those who are vulnerable.

Greene was one of more than 200 college and university presidents who, in November, signed a statement supporting DACA and urging business, civic, religious and nonprofit organizations to join them in supporting DACA and undocumented immigrant students.