Western University is adding its name to a list of Canadian and American academic institutions calling on the U.S. government to rescind President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban.
In a statement Monday, Amit Chakma, Western’s president and vice-chancellor, said the university, like many others across North America, had “grave concern” about the executive order signed by President Trump on Friday that bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
In particular, Chakma said, the university was concerned how the executive order may affect Western’s approximately 175 students, faculty, staff, and visitors from countries included in the ban.
“Their travel could potentially be affected, particularly, if they were coming from the U.S. as visitors in Canada and then needing to come back to the United States,” said Julie McMullin, Western’s vice-provost and associate vice-president for international students. “They are here primarily for research and studying purposes.”
Among the institutions calling for an end to the travel ban are Universities Canada, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.
“Western is home to more than 3,000 international students, and whenever anything like this happens, it becomes very problematic,” McMullin said. “It speaks to a problem with respect to the importance that we place on diversity and inclusivity, and we are very concerned.”
As part of the executive order, Trump also put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the United States, and an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria.
The move has prompted global criticism and protests at airports across the U.S. and in several Canadian cities.
The ban has also reportedly impacted Canadian citizens travelling into the U.S. who were born in one of the seven countries listed. On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said Canadians with dual citizenship would be allowed to enter the United States despite earlier warnings to the contrary.
In his statement, Chakma said there was also concern how Trump’s executive order may affect “the transfer of knowledge,” noting that a recent statement from Universities Canada highlighted how the ban will affect research partnerships, international studies, field visits, and participation in academic conferences.
“The problems of our world are highly complex and no one nation has all the answers,” Chakma said. “It is through the sharing and exchange of ideas and research findings that progress is and will be made.”
To monitor the situation, Chakma said a committee was being formed to provide updates on any developments affecting the Western community.
“Plans are also underway to host an event at which we can demonstrate our commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion, as well as express our support and appreciation of international students, faculty and staff,” Chakma said.
McMullin says those in the Western community affected by or concerned about the travel ban should contact the Western International Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from Alyssa Julie of News Talk 770, Global News, and The Canadian Press