Travel bans. Sanctuary campuses. Undocumented classmates. Today’s college students face challenges that go beyond scheduling classes or affording textbooks.

Uncertain U tackles these issues head on. We set out in January 2017 to understand how America’s changing attitudes on immigration affect university students.

Uncertain U is a journalism project created by students in the “Writing and Editing for Convergent Media” course at American University in Washington, D.C. Over the course of one semester, our classroom transformed into a newsroom, and each student took on a specific role, like photo editor or web designer, to help bring this project to life.

Through Uncertain U, we attempt to paint the intricate and often confusing stories of DACA students, refugees, and the students, administrators and professors who work with them. We break down the facts and examine some of the policies and practices that have seemingly divided our country. We interviewed experts, grappled with the administration’s shifting policies during the semester, and shared updates on Facebook.

Of course, this work hasn’t been easy. How do you get someone to talk about life in a refugee camp? What do you do when a student doesn’t want their name printed in an article, fearing what could happen if others find out they’re undocumented? And perhaps our favorite question — what is a sanctuary campus?

The short answer is, it’s tricky. No one really has the answers yet. And as we reflect on the milestone of the first 100 days of President Trump’s term in office, it’s difficult to anticipate what will happen next.

This is why we developed our own survey. We learned that 61 percent of college students believe that undocumented students should be given the same consideration as other students during the college admissions process. Four in ten students say they have witnessed Islamophobia on campus. Millennials tend to be more supportive of immigration and international scholarship than older generations, yet we still harbor biases.

Our conversations about travel bans and nationality, F-1 visas and citizenship have shed light on a larger issue that we have tried to uncover through this project: how does this country treat outsiders? Although these issues are only now being brought to the public’s attention, these are the true, lived experiences of hundreds of thousands of students.

This is Uncertain U.


Featured photo by Lauren Lumpkin