In Fall 2019, Temple University will open the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship program, which aims to increase the amount of foreign applications to American universities.
Jessica Sandberg, the director of International Admissions, created the scholarship to provide financial assistance to international students who are participating in the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, which she began in November 2016.
The campaign has spread to more than 350 colleges and universities and 20 high schools. Students participating in the campaign have produced videos where they hold signs with the slogan #YouAreWelcomeHere, as well as run various social media accounts promoting the cause.
In 2017, 40 percent of U.S. universities saw a decline in applications from international students, WBUR radio reported, citing educators who said the election of Donald Trump and racism are some of their biggest concerns of administrators when trying to attract international students to America.
To combat this trend, the scholarship will be offered to any first-year international student of any major who submits an essay or video describing how they will help further cross-cultural education. The deadline for applications is Dec. 15, 2018.
Several universities, like James Madison University, Purdue University and Northwest University, will implement the program, which will provide an annual, renewable scholarship to cover at least 50 percent of a recipient’s tuition.
#YouAreWelcomeHere garnered attention after President Donald Trump’s January 2017 executive order temporarily and indefinitely barred citizens from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
“I wanted to forward this idea that we should push back,” Sandberg said about the campaign. “I thought it was the right message at the right time, at a time when a lot of negative things were coming out about the US, to target young people and reinforce the idea of a safe place.”
The campaign offered an opportunity to work with other colleges and universities instead of competing with them, Sandberg said.
“I felt more and more determined that universities stick together,” she added. “People can be a bit tribal about their university affiliations and it’s been a very heartwarming experience to work together with colleagues who at other times may be seen as adversaries.”
Sandberg said more universities and students joined the campaign following Trump’s order.
Abdulrahman Alsulaiman is an international student from Saudi Arabia and the president of the Saudi Student Association. He said Trump’s travel ban created a lot of uncertainty in the future of international students.
“After Trump talked about making it harder for people to come to the U.S., many current students were afraid that they will not be able to continue their degrees,” Alsulaiman, who participates in the campaign, said. “I have witnessed life on Temple’s campus, and I know that international students are welcome here,” he added.
The scholarship is an “amazing development,” he said. He already has a full scholarship and stipend from the Saudi Arabian government, but said his international friends at Temple would benefit from the program.
Landry Bado, a 2018 architecture alumnus from Burkina Faso and who appeared in the #YouAreWelcomeHere videos, said the scholarship would help make students feel welcome.
“[The scholarship] is a resource that I could have definitely benefited from and think it will help students feel welcome,” Bado said.
“The response at Temple is that people really want to get involved with it,” Sandberg said. “I was feeling pressure to make sure it keeps going and make sure it doesn’t fall out of view. With these new scholarships, we build a bridge of goodwill.”