President Petillo’s Email To Students Opens Up A New Debate

Airport service workers from United Service Workers West union protest President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel from seven primarily Muslim countries outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Photo by Chris Carlson/AP Photo.

Airport service workers from United Service Workers West union protest President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel from seven primarily Muslim countries outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Photo by Chris Carlson/AP Photo.

By Natalie Cioffari


President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that made major changes to the United States immigration system, sparking confusion at airports, protests and denunciations from leaders around the world.

Trump’s executive order temporarily suspends all immigration for citizens of seven majority Muslim countries for 90 days. They are: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The order also calls for Homeland Security and State department officials, along with the director of national intelligence, to review what information the government needs to fully vet would-be visitors and come up with a list of countries that don’t provide it.

The order says the government will give countries 60 days to start providing the information or citizens from those countries will be banned from traveling to the United States.

On Monday, President John J. Petillo addressed the Sacred Heart University community in an email regarding President Trump’s executive order, stating, “This order goes against everything that Sacred Heart University stands for. We are Catholic in tradition and spirit. We uphold the God-given freedom and dignity of every human person.”

Sacred Heart students had a wide variety of reactions to this sudden email.

“I was happy to see how supportive President Petillo was of the different people affected by the new executive order. I think it’s important that the university stands by those who are in times of need as it upholds the traditional Catholic values that SHU was founded on,” said senior MaryAnn Victoria.

President Petillo went on to say that “since our founding in 1963, we have welcomed men and women of all religious traditions, beliefs and ethnicities, who share our concerns for truth, scholarship, the dignity of the human person, freedom and the betterment of human society.”

He also advised those students of those outlined nations in Trump’s order to not leave the country at this time.

“I know there are a lot of international students that go to Sacred Heart that are probably confused and scared right now. Sacred Heart is as much of their home as it is mine. So it’s not fair that they have to be afraid and I think it’s great that Petillo sent out this message to help embrace diversity and reject Trump’s order,” said junior Sam Bartol.

The email also specified the different offices and groups that students could reach out to for support or safety. “The staff at the Offices of Global Affairs, Graduate, International and Veteran Student Affairs, International Admissions and Immigration and Support Services are available to help. They will continue to follow the ramifications of the order and will brief students as the situation evolves. The staff of Campus Ministry is also available to all students,” wrote Petillo.

Students agreed that Sacred Heart should be a home for everyone.

“I feel like you should always feel welcomed in a place of learning especially if you’re from far away or foreign to the US. I’m sure a lot of people associated with this religion or with those countries are feeling fear and worry and it’s important that they know that we don’t agree and want to help them,” said senior Mikaela McGuire.

However, there were also mixed reviews regarding President Petillo’s email.

“Honestly my opinion is split on the email itself,” said senior Allison Gibbons. “The only strong opinion I have after reading that is I think it’s pretty ironic how our school is so assured in their stance on our rights saying ‘we uphold the God-given freedom and dignity of every human person.’ Yet the second Trump initiates action against planned parent hood, abortions, birth control, etc. those god-given freedoms are omitted. I just feel as though it would be in the best interest of our school not to so boldly take political stances in defenses of students when they cannot uphold the same support for varying social matter.”

To see the full email, “A Message to the SHU Community: Immigration Policies,” you can visit the Sacred Heart University website,

More student reactions from Persepctives:

“Suck it up America. We got a president that’s actually doing what he promised, and having these “peaceful protests” that ultimately end in a riot helps no one. If you’re unhappy with the results don’t take it out on small businesses and other around you, because they’re going through the same pain. Accept what America voted for because we got him for four years,” – sophomore Steve Musitano

“This was also done back in 2011 when Obama placed a 6 month ban on Iraqi refugees. I understand we need to be welcoming, but the safety of our own people should come first,” – senior Jim Kent

“I understand that America is the melting pot and a place where diversity is greatly appreciated, but, at this time of war and terrorism, our number one priority should be to keep our own citizens safe,” – freshman Olivia Digirolamo

“The catholic intellectual tradition preaches tolerance of the people that come from different religious backgrounds. Living in a country that tries to bring that down I think Petillo wrote a well worded and needed email. However I know my opinion can only go so far because I really have no idea what those students are going through,” – senior Maurice Fabiani

“As a Trump supporter and student of Sacred Heart, I was not shocked about seeing Dr. Petillo’s email. SHU is a very left-wing university and is open and accepting to people from all walks of life, races, religions, etc. I understand the reasoning behind it, but many people do not understand nor educate themselves. President Trump is doing what he’s doing for the sake of our country. Our safety is #1 in my mind. If that’s what we have to do to protect our nation, so be it. I feel as though that email was very inclusive of the liberal portion of the university, but forgetful of the college conservatives who have different views,” – senior Jane Kenney

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