ANU Academics Speak out Against US Visa Changes

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Academics from across the ANU have spoken out against US President Donald Trump’s 27 January executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days. The Executive Order is aimed at citizens of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Sudan on national security grounds, including those with green cards and visas to enter the US.

An online petition calling for an academic boycott of international conferences held in the US has gained over 6,000 signatures including a number of ANU staff. Senior Lecturer at the ANU College of Law Linda Kirk is one of the signatories of the petition who believes the executive order is ‘squarely at odds with the commitment of the international academic community to equitable access by students and staff to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge.’

‘The implications of this for ANU staff and students, indeed for all members of the international academic community, is that the perspectives, knowledge and contributions of nationals from these predominantly Muslim countries will be excluded from international academic gatherings in the United States.’

In an email to students on 30 January ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt advised that students should ‘contact their supervisor before confirming any travel plans and, in addition, should monitor Smart Traveller for updates.’ Any Australians who have travelled to the seven Muslim-majority countries in the past six years are no longer able to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program.

‘The boycott is necessary to demonstrate solidarity with the nationals from the seven countries affected by the executive order. It is tantamount to a call for organisations to relocate any proposed conferences to outside the United States so that all academics who wish to attend and participate in international conferences will be able to do so equally without threat of or actual refusal of entry at the US border,’ Kirk said.

Professor Schmidt’s email says ‘I’m sure many of you share my alarm and deep concern at the Executive Order … ANU welcomes our students, staff and visitors from these countries without prejudice and will support those affected by the restrictions.’ He has also signed a US petition of academics and Nobel Laureates opposing the executive order.

Professor Schmidt has a shared a number of quotes and articles on Twitter critical of Trump. In a response to a tweet by the Rogue NASA account about an Australian student not being able to attend Space Camp because of his Iranian background, Professor Schmidt said ANU was offering an equivalent experience in Canberra to any Australians affected.

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