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President appoints working group to mitigate impact of US travel ban

President Jamie Cassels has appointed a small working group to assess how the recent US executive order banning entry into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries is affecting students, faculty and staff at UVic, and how best to meet their immediate needs. The group will also recommend possible longer-range responses by the university. Cassels announced the formation of the working group at the Feb. 3 meeting of the university Senate.

The working group will look at the magnitude of the impacts of the executive order on campus and the needs of those directly affected. It will also propose effective and appropriate forms of action and support for UVic students, faculty and staff as a priority and submit recommendations for these to the president by mid-February. It will also consider supports for affected faculty and students who may wish to come to UVic. The working group will be able to access up to $100,000 in one-time funds to support new measures.

“The values of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect are at the heart of our university’s mission,” Cassels told Senate, referring both to the executive order and the shootings at the Quebec mosque where six people were murdered in an attack by a lone gunman on Jan. 29.

“The discovery and dissemination of knowledge and ideas, the search for truth, the effort to make a positive contribution, can only succeed when people of different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives come together to exchange ideas. So it is critical that all of us do what we can to guard and strengthen our academic environment and the values upon which it depends.”

The working group is being coordinated by Associate Vice-President Student Affairs Jim Dunsdon. He is joined on the group by Graduate Studies Dean David Capson, Humanities Dean Chris Goto-Jones, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Fayez Gebali and Acting Director of Equity and Human Rights Mary Ellen Purkis. The group will bring in and consult with others as needed. The working group can be contacted through .

The Jan. 27 US executive order prevents individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days and suspends the entry of all refugees for 120 days.

UVic, as well as universities across Canada, are concerned about the impact of the travel ban on research activities, international studies, academic conferences, field visits and family relationships of university students, faculty and staff. UVic is working with other universities through Universities Canada to share information and approaches and promote discussions with federal officials on ways to mitigate the impacts of the travel ban.

UVic encourages any university community members who are concerned about how the executive order may impact their work or studies to approach their unit heads or supervisors. An information page is also available online.


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