To: Australian University managements

Show the world that Middle Eastern and Latin American students are welcome here

President Donald Trump’s Executive Order suspending visas for all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia is already having an impact on our students—and we hear that Mexican nationals will be next. This is only one of the many discriminatory Executive Orders issued by Trump that are attacking the rights and freedoms of human beings worldwide.

We know of at least one national from one of these countries, enrolled as a Postgraduate Research Student in the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney, who has already been barred from entering the US to do fieldwork. How many others are there, will there be? How many students from these countries who have applied or already been accepted to study in the US will now be stopped from doing so?

Australian academics, and Australian universities, must take a stand in the face of this ethno-nationalism, so reminiscent of the darkest moments in the history of the 20th century. It not only discriminates against people on the basis of their nationality and presumed religion, but it signals a ferocious attack on academic freedom: the free circulation of ideas and knowledge and of the people who generate them.

An accident of birth should never be a criterion for judging any individual and certainly not for determining their academic merit.

Now is the time for Australian universities to take a stand, to open our doors to Middle Eastern and African students. Now is the time for universities to find the political will and the resources to offer extra scholarships to qualified students from these countries.

We call on the leaders of Australian universities to take concrete action. We call on them to say NO to the politics of the Trump administration and YES to academic freedom, human rights and equity in diversity.
We call on them to:
• Take a united public stand opposing the policies of the Trump administration that target international students or intellectual freedom and exchange in any way;
• Support international students by opening more places, and funding extra scholarships, for students from countries barred by Trump.

Why is this important?

The Trump administration is targeting the rights and freedoms of people both inside the US and worldwide: from women's reproductive rights to refugees to intellectual freedom and academic exchange. If we let this happen without our institutions and governments taking a stand, then we are tacitly condoning Trump's actions. This is why it is essential for our intellectual and political leaders to show international students that they are welcome in this country, and to show that the free international circulation of people and ideas is essential to a robust higher education system and to a robust community.


Reasons for signing

  • We have no hope of any leadership from the Australian government on this issue. It is beholden on our universities to take a stand for the principles that they claim to represent.
  • Basic human rights need to be upheld and supported by all who are in a position to express an opinion. Democracy depends on the exercise of free speech and this in turn is strengthened by an education system that encourages critical thinking. As educators we need to take a stand on issues of both local and global significance.
  • Australian university management should stand against these travel bans. They disrupt the spirit of open inquiry and undermine universities' commitment to inclusive research and education.

Updates

2017-01-30 22:13:55 +1100

100 signatures reached

2017-01-30 20:25:11 +1100

50 signatures reached

2017-01-30 19:09:21 +1100

25 signatures reached

2017-01-30 18:14:38 +1100

10 signatures reached