Higher education

University of Iowa groups mount protest against immigration ban

UI President Harreld: It's 'wrong-headed'

The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa campus constituents continue to come out against an executive order signed by President Donald Trump banning immigration from specific countries and altering the visa application process.

Members of the UI Faculty Senate on Thursday sent a message to their colleagues notifying them of the work UI International Programs is undertaking on behalf of affected students and informing them UI President Bruce Harreld has joined other universities in signing letters from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Universities.

“These letters encourage the administration to rescind the executive order and to support policies that allow talented individuals from around the world to train and work at our institutions,” according to the Faculty Senate letter.

Harreld on Thursday told The Gazette his team has been in meeting with students and campus constituents in hopes of determining how many might be directly impacted. And, he said, “as a campus, we’ll get through it.”

But, he said, “This whole thing, in my view ... is thoughtless, very poorly implemented, seems cavalier in many ways, and I’m not so sure it’s going to solve the problem that someone thinks we have.”

“It’s actually almost antithetical to the values I think our institution has, I think most Americans have, and maybe illegal,” Harreld said. “That’s not who we are.”

He expressed concern about how the ban might affect the university’s international recruiting — looking to the future — even among prospective students not on the list of seven banned countries.

“I think that people outside the system looking at us are saying, ‘What’s going on? This isn’t the America I thought I understood,” he said. “I think it will cause a pause.”

Universities across the country, for generations, have celebrated “bringing people in, absorbing them, training them,” Harreld said. When they see the “great things that happen in this country, they stay, they want to be us, and then they add value long-term.”

Hence, he said, the immigration ban is just “wrong-headed.”

The UI chapter of the American Association of University Professors on Thursday also issued a statement strongly opposing what it called a “Muslim ban.” The order, according to the statement, “discriminates illegally against entire classes of population based on ‘nationality, place of birth, or place of residence’ in violation of federal law.”

“Perhaps worst of all, the spirit of the executive order flagrantly violates our national values,” according to the UI-AAUP statement.

The statement spells out specific impacts, including distinguished academics who were invited to lecture on campus but have been prevented from coming or have cancelled their trip.

“Meanwhile, major, reputable newspapers report that the White House is drafting further executive orders targeting other legal immigrants and visitors from abroad,” according to the statement. “We therefore have reason to be concerned that additional groups of citizens, visitors, refugees, or immigrants will be subject to further discriminatory bans, and will find themselves suddenly prevented from continuing their studies, teaching, research, or medical careers at the University of Iowa.”

In the Faculty Senate’s statements, leaders vow to “stand ready to help if you are in need of assistance.”

“Faculty Senate officers know that diversity and inclusion, in nationality, as well as in race, gender, sexual orientation, and political ideology, are essential for the vitality of the University of Iowa. As a community, we are strengthened and enriched by this diversity.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.