McMaster con­demns Amer­i­can travel ban

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JOANNA FRKETICH

McMaster Uni­ver­sity is pub­licly op­pos­ing the United States travel ban, call­ing it “deeply trou­bling.”

“McMaster joins with uni­ver­si­ties across Canada and around the world in con­demn­ing the tar­get­ing of in­di­vid­u­als based on na­tion­al­ity or re­li­gion and is pro­vid­ing sup­ports to any mem­ber of the com­mu­nity who may be im­pacted by this sud­den pol­icy change,” stated a mes­sage to stu­dents and staff dated Jan 30.

McMaster es­ti­mates roughly 95 of its grad­u­ate stu­dents and five un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents are cit­i­zens of the seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Su­dan, Libya, So­ma­lia and Ye­men — blocked from the United States for 90 days when U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der Jan. 27 to pro­tect the coun­try from “for­eign ter­ror­ist en­try.”

None of the McMaster stu­dents are be­lieved to have en­coun­tered is­sues, be­fore a fed­eral judge in Wash­ing­ton State tem­po­rar­ily blocked the ban Feb. 3.

“Since the in­tro­duc­tion of the travel ban, McMaster has been fo­cused on en­sur­ing our cur­rent stu­dents have the sup­ports and re­sources they may need,” said McMaster spokesper­son Gord Ar­beau.

“We’ve been reach­ing out to them to help ease any bur­dens the trou­bling ac­tions may present. We have not heard from any cur­rent stu­dents who have faced de­lays or dif­fi­cul­ties so far.”

Mo­hawk Col­lege is also reach­ing out to its in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

“Mo­hawk is look­ing at what we can do to help for­eign stu­dents and con­tinue to be a wel­com­ing col­lege for ev­ery­one,” said spokesper­son Jay Robb.

Both McMaster and Mo­hawk have had a dra­matic jump in ap­pli­ca­tions from in­ter­na­tional stu­dents since the U.S. elec­tion Nov. 8

Ap­pli­ca­tions from Amer­i­can stu­dents alone have gone up by 35 per cent at McMaster.

“Mo­hawk has had a record num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions from in­ter­na­tional stu­dents,” said Robb. “We’re up by around 50 per cent com­pared to this time last year.”

Ni­a­gara’s Brock Uni­ver­sity,

which has a cam­pus in Hamil­ton, says it will stream­line its ad­mis­sion process, waive cer­tain fees, cut tu­ition de­posits in half and guar­an­tee res­i­dence spa­ces for el­i­gi­ble stu­dents from the seven coun­tries.

“Brock wel­comes in­di­vid­u­als from around the world,” uni­ver­sity provost Tom Dunk stated. “Fos­ter­ing an in­clu­sive, safe and ac­ces­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment is at the heart of this uni­ver­sity’s core val­ues.”

Uni­ver­si­ties Canada says the 97 schools it rep­re­sents across the na­tion are “deeply con­cerned” about the ex­ec­u­tive or­der. It sup­ports a call by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ties to end the ban as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“Uni­ver­si­ties Canada does not typ­i­cally com­ment on ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion be­ing taken by an­other coun­try, but we do so to­day be­cause of the real im­ped­i­ment this new ex­ec­u­tive or­der poses to the free flow of peo­ple and ideas and to the val­ues of diver­sity, in­clu­sion and open­ness that are hall­marks of a strong and healthy so­ci­ety,” says the state­ment from Jan. 29.

McMaster is pro­vid­ing its stu­dents and staff with re­sources to get ad­vice and as­sis­tance re­gard­ing the ban.

“This is a mis­guided and harm­ful step that is un­nec­es­sar­ily dis­rup­tive for stu­dents, fac­ulty mem­bers and other part­ners,” said Mac pres­i­dent Pa­trick Deane in a state­ment.

He also ex­pressed con­cern about the im­pact the ban could have on sci­en­tific re­search, which is an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant part of Hamil­ton’s econ­omy.

“As an in­ter­na­tion­ally-en­gaged, re­search-in­ten­sive uni­ver­sity, this abrupt change in pol­icy has a chill­ing im­pact on in­di­vid­ual schol­ars and their fam­i­lies, and on the im­por­tant re­la­tion­ships we have care­fully built over the years,” said Deane.

At McMaster, the ban has also been con­demned by the pres­i­dent’s ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee on build­ing an in­clu­sive com­mu­nity.

Com­mit­tee chair Ameil Joseph said in a pub­lic let­ter to McMaster staff, fac­ulty and stu­dents: “We stand in sol­i­dar­ity with mem­bers of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties af­fected.”

The com­mit­tee called on the McMaster com­mu­nity to “re­sist the fear and hate.”

“Dur­ing this crit­i­cal pe­riod and go­ing for­ward it will be upon all of us to help foster a sense of safety and in­clu­sion on cam­pus and in the com­mu­nity,” states the let­ter. There have been a num­ber of planned and spon­ta­neous gath­er­ings in sup­port of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity on McMaster’s cam­pus since the travel ban was is­sued. Some have also been in re­ac­tion to the Que­bec City mosque shoot­ing at the Is­lamic Cul­tural Cen­tre in Que­bec Jan. 29.

A sem­i­nar on diver­sity will be held at McMaster Feb 13, or­ga­nized by the of­fice of the pres­i­dent. The event at 4:30 p.m. in the Great Hall, called The Role of the Academy in Build­ing Cul­tural Abun­dance in a Di­verse Na­tion, is open to the pub­lic. For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact saulles@mcmaster.ca

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