CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - An online petition is collecting hundreds of signatures of support for Muslims at the University of Virginia.

A group of professors crafted the statement of support in response to calls to ban Muslims from coming to America. They say that kind of rhetoric goes against the beliefs of Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the university.

John Alexander a professor at UVA read a statement of support Tuesday that said "We, members of the faculty and staff of the University of Virginia affirm our support and love for our Muslim students, colleagues, and friends."

The statement was crafted following a conversation with a colleague.

“He'd been losing sleep over this issue and then suddenly realized, he didn't have to lose sleep over this issue, he could do something,” said Alexander.

It comes in response to Donald Trump’s recent statement where he called for banning Muslims from entering the United States.

“To have that kind of intolerance spoken publicly, rhetorically, we just couldn't let that stand,” said Alexander.

The professors posted the petition online, and within hours, more than 800 faculty and staff signed their support.

“This is a thoughtful and a tolerant community, and I think we've been working hard the last couple of years on issues of diversity and multiculturalism,” said Alexander.

One student in particular felt comforted by the petition. Muslim Student’s Association member Mariya Tayyab came to America from Pakistan when she was a child.

“When you hear comments like that, it's like do I not belong here? Do people not want me here? It is a little tough to hear it,” Tayyab said.  

Tayyab believes UVA is a tolerant community, and she appreciates the solidarity behind the statement of support.

“I've never heard any comments like Muslims don't belong here or we might be terrorists at UVA, but it's still nice to hear that people do support us,” she said.

To read the statement please click here.