Universities Must Stand Against Bigotry

Today I signed a petition calling for a boycott of international academic conferences held in the US. The boycott has been organized in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban entry to the US by Muslims from seven selected countries. The boycott currently has over 5,500 signatures. I also signed another petition imploring Australian Universities to explicitly denounce Trump’s polices as well as to support international students by funding scholarships for students from countries affected by the ban.

I am an American citizen by birth, and a naturalized Australian citizen. So it’s disorienting to say the least to be boycotting conferences in my home country. Detractors of boycotts point to the collateral harm they sometimes inflict on those whom we are intending to help. Yet the preservation of American democracy—not to mention our collective responsibility as global citizens to oppose all forms of xenophobia—outweighs whatever temporary inconveniences American universities might incur if the call for a boycott receives widespread support. As one American academic on my Facebook feed said today: “Boycott me, please!”

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