It’s just too busy to keep pace with the blog space right now, but just wanted to thank the Memorial community for openly embracing the university’s response to the US 90-day travel ban against seven countries. Universities across the country have rightly stressed the values of access and inclusiveness. Memorial has gone even further by extending an offer to reimburse application fees for those applying from the affected countries, while we explore ways of supporting those who are admitted for their first semester through a special scholarship.
Reaction from students, staff, faculty, and alumni has been heartening, to say the least. In today’s much smaller world word travels fast. I was just flipped an email from a student in Tehran who has heard of our response and is seeking information about our Physics program. That’s just one email. I am sure our Iranian students already enrolled in our programs are circulating the news to friends and family back home, as are others from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya—and the USA, where the offer has also been extended. This is not a ‘cash grab’ as some have cynically suggested, making it really easy to unfriend a few Facebook followers; it is simply the least we can and should do.
We are living in anxious times. I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt quite so uncertain about this poor planet’s chances of getting things right, of working towards peace and equality. But demonstrations on the streets of many US and Canadian cities, the recent massive women’s protests all over the world, and even mainstream media’s struggle to defy the falsifiers underscores a broad coalition of resistance.
Universities –especially Canadian public universities– are uniquely placed to speak on behalf of that resistance, and so we should. I write these words as I am about to travel to a meeting in California. If US Customs has the capacity to read my social media feeds then I might never get there. If you don’t hear from me for a while, make sure to ask if I am in some no man’s land between BC and CA.
Meanwhile, as the French say, courage!