Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Science Organizations and Universities speak up against Trump's travel ban

by Salman Hameed


First of all, there is a March for Science on Earth Day, April 22nd. Apart from Washington D.C., there will be satellite marches as well. Here is the blurb for the March:
We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone. 
Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march. Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels - from local schools to federal agencies - throughout the world.
In another move, 151 science organizations and universities have denounced Trump's Muslim ban from seven countries. The list includes pretty much any science related organization you know of, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and International Council for Science (ICSU) that represents 142 countries (they also have a separate statement, and you can read it here). Here is the letter against the ban:


While these are utterly depressing times (see the conformation of Attorney General and Education Secretary for some of the low points in the last two days), it is great to see science organizations standing up both for immigrants and for science itself. And it makes sense. The US has become a scientific powerhouse by attracting the best minds from all over the world. The visa restrictions has started to get crazy even under the Obama administration. But now with this ban, it will take years to reverse the damage. Apart from impacting individuals and their families, this action will also have an impact on science conferences as well as the ability to do broader scientific collaboration work.

One of the organizations impacted more directly impacted by it is the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Its meetings always happen here in US (it is an American association). However, this year there had been calls to move the next MESA meeting outside of US. They have decided against it, but have issued the following statement:
MESA strongly condemns the Executive Order limiting the entry of Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants to the U.S. and urges the President and Congress to lift the ban. The ban impedes the mission of the Middle East Studies Association, which is to bring together scholars, educators, and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world. Further, the ban disproportionately discriminates against individuals from the Middle East, many of whom are members of our community. With other universities and academic associations, we call on the President and Congress to lift this Executive Order
The next four years are going to be long.

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