Barry students and alumni are outraged by President Trump's remarks about the countries from which they hail, mentioning the alliances some of these countries have made with the United States in years past.
In a closed Oval Office meeting with lawmakers in January President Donald Trump stated discussing immigration concerning Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, “Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?”
President Trump’s comment in this meeting coupled with his past remarks concerning immigrants and immigration policies resulted in instantaneous backlash from American citizens and public officials alike.
However, his recent statement regarding African nations, Haiti and El Salvador has drawn international backlash, too. Presidents and citizens from these named countries called his remarks 'disparaging,' 'derogatory' and 'undiplomatic.'
Barry University has international students from these named countries who were perturbed, as well.
Barry alumnus Loucely Brutus is from Haiti and said he was utterly disgusted when he heard about President’s Trump’s remarks.
“I couldn’t fathom that the president of the United States would use such language toward his neighbor. Especially the Caribbean neighbor that been an ally for the U.S on numerous occasions in history, when they needed a partner," he said. "Also, President Trump was the same individual that was begging for the Haitian American votes before the presidential elections.”
Biology and philosophy student from Togo, Llona Kavege, said she doesn't care about the context for why the president uttered those words because his comments were wrong.
"Any statements that President Trump makes has a great impact or magnitude on the rest of world. It may be his personal opinions but as a President he shouldn’t have made those statements," she said. "Making such accusatory and demeaning remarks are unacceptable...he is actually reinforcing the ignorant stigmas and beliefs, thus, enabling individuals who are going to feel encouraged to reciprocate this type of behavior.”
Wills Compere, a Haitian student here at Barry, believes the president should have kept the remark to himself.
“I find it inappropriate for the United States President to say these remarks because he does not relate to any nationalities he commented on," he said.
Both Brutus and Kavege also provided historical background for both Haiti and Togo aiding the United States as allies.
Haiti was a vital ally during the American Revolution in 1776, which the United States won. The map of the United States was changed when Thomas Jefferson was able to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon because the French general was unable to subdue Haitian troops trained by Toussaint L'Ouverture.
Togo, the West African nation located on the Gulf of Guinea, signed a treaty with the United States on August 25, 1921 to remain friendly when the rest of neighboring African nations wanted to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union.
By recalling the history, the United States has had with Haiti and other African nations, both Brutus and Kavege are reminding Trump and his supporters that the United States would have not been able to become the powerful first world country it deems itself today without the help from the “sh*thole” countries.
South African student Adrianna Weng also spoke passionately about her country’s contributions.
“The U.S. trades largely under AGOA (African Growth & Opportunity Act), with South Africa being the largest exporters. We export thousands of manufactured cars such as BMW and VW to the U.S. as well as agricultural produce and local wines every year. South Africa also forms part of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & SA) which are emerging markets that are about to become advanced economies," she said.
Furthermore, Weng notes South African luminaries like Nelson Mandela who was an international icon who fought against black oppression during apartheid and Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, as examples to the world.
Countries impact aside, these Barry students and alumni have also made their own personal impact.
Haitian student Compere is majoring in sociology and minoring in biology, is currently a member of Alternative Breaks, Service Corps, BUSAA, MAPS, and Chemistry Club.
Togolese student Kavege is not only a double major in biology and philosophy, she is also a Stamps Scholar, a member of RISE research assistant and is on the Barry Ethics Bowl team.
Business Management major Adriana Weng was awarded the 2016 Best Academic Performer in Business Living Learning Community by the Department of Housing and Resident Life.
Haitian Barry alumni Brutus encourages people to continue talking about the issues at hand and to vote in higher percentage for politicians and public officials that share the same core values and hold them accountable if they don’t deliver results.
Kavege delivers one final remark to President Trump.
“You wouldn’t survive without us,” said Kavege.