June 17, 2007
Calls for Concerted Action
AHA President Barbara Weinstein recently participated in a live, online discussion about the difficulties experienced by foreign scholars seeking entry to the United States. Weinstein pointed to the various steps that the AHA and other academic organizations had taken in such individual cases as that of Waskar Ari (the Bolivian historian who could not take up a position at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln because his visa was cancelled by U.S. authorities), but declared that what was needed was more concerted, broad-based efforts by learned societies and college presidents. “The denial of visas to foreign scholars on unspecified grounds is a problem even if it involves a relatively small number of academics,” Weinstein stated, and went on to argue that “some of the scholars that the US government regards as controversial are those that may be the most important to listen to, even if some of us may find what they have to say challenging, or even upsetting.”
Melissa Goodman, a staff attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union also participated in the discussion, which was arranged on June 14, 2007, by the Chronicle of Higher Education in its series of “Live Discussions” of important and timely topics. Burton Bollag, a staff reporter at the Chronicle, served as moderator. The text of the complete discussion is available on the Chronicle’s web site.
Update: – Waskar Ari Finally Wins Visa