Sunday, January 29, 2017

Expect Inadequate Responses

The ISA put up a policy in reaction to this weekend's news.  And, of course, the first draft is inadequate.  I get it that this stuff is hard.

First, it puts the onus on scholars to test the US government's refugee ban--that one has to be denied entry to get a refund. Seriously?  People have to spend the money to fly to the US and then find themselves detained?  Or they have to go to their airport and not get on a plane?  This will make it hard to get refunds from airports and hotels, instead of planning ahead and changing all of their plans, which might mitigate the costs.

Second, I get that the ISA is not a political organization--I pushed last year for it not to take a BDS stance.  But this is an academic freedom thing more than a political issue--that our students and our colleagues will either be stuck in the US for fear of not being let in OR they will not be able to come to the US because of these restrictions. 

There are times that call for leadership, rather than risk mitigation, and this is one of those.  Will the ISA stand up for those who are harmed by these policies? Will it stand up for the threat to academic freedom?  I'd hope so, but maybe that is expecting too much?


Unknown said...

Thanks for your input, Steve. 3 things:
1. I can assure you that the spirit of the policy is not to require people to go to the airport to get a refund. Anyone who would like to request a fee refund should contact Mark Boyer.
2. We will continue to seek legal counsel and monitor a fast moving situation.
3. Issues connected to the EO that affect ISA will be discussed at GC, which is the body that can make major governance decisions for ISA. Committees may also take up associated issues.

Charli Carpenter said...

Steve, thanks for this important set of observations. I would also like to see the ISA take a much stronger stand. I am aware that some people will be boycotting holding ISA conferences in the US so long as we cannot include members of all nationalities. Perhaps we need to relocate to Canada for the next several years.

R. William Ayres said...

As a policy implementation guy, I agree with Steve - it might have been good to see a stronger statement up front that "if you think you can't get here, we'll give you your money back, no questions asked". This is closer to the position that Southwest Airlines took in the wake of 9/11, which has always seemed to me a model of corporate courage - we don't care what this does to our bottom line, it's the right thing to do. I appreciate that this may have been the intention from the beginning - wording should reflect intention, and should always be clear and courageous.