FA News: 2/6/2017

Dear Colleagues,

[If you are surprised to be getting an email from the Faculty Association, or to be getting one sent to this email account, please see the housekeeping note at the end of this message.]

As you know, on Friday, January 27, Donald Trump issued an Executive Order barring entry to the US for travellers, immigrants, refugees, and others from seven primarily Muslim countries. While the courts have placed a stay on this order over the weekend, the Trump Justice Department is challenging that ruling, and the Executive Order could well be reinstated.

In our view this order is rooted in the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bias that was such a prominent part of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Blanket bans on refugees, and bans on travelers based on their religious beliefs, are not only contrary to international law but fundamentally anti-American. We thus join with our parent union, the NEA, in condemning the executive order in the strongest terms.

Last Monday, Interim Chancellor Colwell expressed our university’s concerns about the effects of this measure on SIUC’s international students. This weekend the Center for International Education provided a detailed update on their work in support of international students. We support these efforts to ensure that SIUC remains a welcoming place to students from abroad.

President Trump’s Executive order also affects faculty. Roughly 130 SIUC faculty are non-citizens, and several faculty are on H1-B visas from the countries named in the Executive Order. I have been in contact with David DiLalla, Associate Provost for Academic Administration, who assured me that the administration is working closely with the faculty most directly affected by the travel ban, and will be working with others who may be affected should its terms be broadened. Though the situation is in flux, Associate Provost DiLalla noted one source of information, at least from the Trump administration perspective, the official Department of Homeland Security website. We will continue to work with the SIUC administration and with the IEA to do all we can to mitigate the uncertainty and ill-effects of this ban.

But we all have a role to play in opposing this Executive Order. The Trump travel ban, if upheld by the courts, will have pernicious effects on higher education in the US. It will not only prevent qualified (and vetted) scholars and students from studying in the US, but prevent all US scholars and students from benefitting from direct contact with their peers from the affected countries. Worldwide condemnation of the travel ban could well lead to boycotts of US institutions of higher learning, and the cancellation of speaking engagements, conferences, and other forms of international engagement. The capricious and biased rationale for this ban will deter thinkers, researchers, professors, and students from coming to the U.S. to share ideas and innovations.

One way to take action locally is to support our international students. Here are some ideas:

·      Participate in the International Student Festival (Feb 6-10).

·      Sign a petition in support of Muslim students on campus.

·      Attend a “dialogue dinner” on Saturday, 2/25th at 6:30 pm at the Wall Street Islamic Center.

Broader ways to take a stand include the petition at notoimmigrationban.com, which has been signed by tens of thousands of US academics. Then there are the traditional means of impacting what goes on in Washington, contacting our representatives there. More personal forms of contact (phone, handwritten letters) tend to have a greater impact than email, so I paste the phone and postal addresses for our Federal office holders at the end of this message.

Finally, the promised Housekeeping Note. I have revised our email list to bring it in to synch with the bargaining unit list as of last semester. If we have an alternative email for you on file (i.e., a non-siu email), you should have received this message at your non-siu address. This is probably a “best practice” for union email (rather than relying on the employer’s email system). If there’s another email you’d rather use, however, including an siu.edu email, please drop me a line and I’ll make the change. If you haven’t been getting our newsletters, and would like to peruse past newsletters, recent missives are available on our website, siucfa.org. My apologies for any confusion or inconvenience caused by these changes to our list.

In solidarity,

Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

President Donald J. Trump
(202) 456-1111
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500

Senator Dick Durbin (Carbondale office)
(618) 351-1122
250 W. Cherry Street
Suite 115-D
Carbondale, IL 62901

Senator Tammy Duckworth
(202) 224-2854
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Congressman Mike Bost
(618) 457-5787
300 East Main Street
Hunter Building-Suite 4
Carbondale, IL 62901

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Among other things.

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