Sunday, January 29, 2017

Action alert for academicians

Over the weekend Trump signed an executive order banning Muslims from seven nations. There have understandably been protests, as well as pushback from Congress members, those in the tech community, civil liberties organizations, and those of us who work at colleges and universities. Of the latter, colleges and universities are noteworthy for educating international students at the undergraduate level, as well as at the graduate level. In addition, those with the funding and facilities to do so hire PostDocs from all over the planet, and practically any higher ed institute will hire international faculty. These are all individuals who are on student visas, or in the case of PostDocs and faculty members work visas, who are here in order to obtain the education and credentials needed to meet their career goals, serve their communities, and in my field add to our collective scientific database with their research contributions. The ban put forth by Trump, which has been already successfully challenged by courts in the US, would severely harm not only those affected, but would harm our educational institutions as well. If you are working at a college or university, there is at least one modest action you can take, and that is to sign the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order petition. The response has been apparently overwhelming enough that the organizers of the petition are still sifting through all the emails. So be patient if you do sign. It may take a bit for your name to show up - but it will soon. Our international students and colleagues need our support and assurance that we truly have their backs, and will not accept actions by the White House that are inhumane and against laws passed by Congress. Our international students and colleagues should not be put in the position of being unable to see family in their home countries for fear of being prevented from returning to their classes and jobs, nor should they be put in a position where they think twice about accepting opportunities to study or work in our colleges and universities simply because of the prejudices of the man who temporarily occupies the White House.

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