By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

The scope of President Donald Trump's executive order blocking citizens from seven countries from entering the U.S. left universities across the country scrambling on Monday to understand the full impact on students, including those at the University of Montana.

The Association for Public and Land-Grant Universities, of which UM is a member, said the president's actions will impact more than 17,000 students from seven banned countries during the current academic school year.

At least 11 students and one visiting scholar at UM could be affected by the president's ban.

“This decision adds great uncertainty to international students, researchers, and others who might consider coming to our campuses,” the association said. “The hardship is now clear and, as a matter of fairness and in accord with the values of this nation, the decision that bans these current visa and green card holders from returning for 90 days should be promptly reconsidered.”

UM Interim President Sheila Stearns circulated the association's letter to the campus community on Monday.

The university's Global Engagement Office and other school officials were working to better understand the impacts of the president's order and how they could best address the needs and concerns of students.

“While this is an evolving situation, the APLU statement reflects the University of Montana’s position and my immediate thoughts on this matter as well,” said Stearns. “I realize that the executive order, the court responses, and the ensuing challenges and changes to policy bring many questions and concerns from those both directly and indirectly affected at the University of Montana.”

Paula Short, the university's communications director, said UM would continue to follow the issue, one that has evolved since Trump abruptly imposed the ban on Friday.

The school plans to post updated information to its website, informing students, faculty and staff of any changes, and as the scope of the president's order becomes better understood.

“We have 11 students and one visiting scholar that are here at UM from countries mentioned in the travel ban,” said Short. “I do know who is affected in terms of the students. This is an evolving situation. Our goal is to keep our students as informed as we can.”

(Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
(Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

The APLU said Trump's order was causing “significant disruption and hardship” to some university students, faculty and researchers, particularly those who come from the seven countries targeted in the president's order.

The countries include Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Somalia. Some of those individuals happened to be abroad when the order was issued.

“These individuals returned home to visit in compliance with the immigration designation they received, but are now stranded abroad and unable to return to their studies and responsibilities in the U.S.,” the association said. “This means that students’ work toward degrees are in question and the ability of faculty to continue teaching or conducting research is uncertain.”

The impact of Trump's decision goes beyond those immediately impacted, the association added. It's a point on which Stearns agreed.

“Our nation’s universities are enriched and strengthened by the talent, insight and culture that international students, faculty, researchers, and staff bring,” Stearns said. “With appropriate and effective vetting, international students from all countries and of all religions have long been a core part of our campus communities, and that should continue uninterrupted.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at