Faculty trustees speak against ban

Bailey Vandiver

While some may be concerned about the state of U.S. democracy, UK faculty can be sure that their Board of Trustees representatives hear them.

Professor of Chemistry Dr. Robert B. Grossman and Professor of Behavioral Science Dr. Lee X. Blonder sent an email to their fellow faculty members on Monday, Feb. 6. Grossman and Blonder are two of 21 members of the board, and were elected by their fellow faculty members.

The letter was in response to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order, which has been referred to as a travel ban. The barring from the U.S. of immigrants and visa holders from certain countries “has caused enormous hardship and heartache for many people in our community, across the nation and around the world,” Grossman and Blonder wrote.

Members of the UK community are affected by this executive order, though no known UK faculty, staff or students have been stranded overseas or detained at U.S. airports, the letter said.

Students from more than 115 countries, including the seven listed specifically in the ban, attend UK. Muslim Student Association President Hadeel Abdallah said that many of these students are worried about their academic future at UK.

“It’s a scary and confusing time for everyone,” Abdallah said. “Muslim students have taken as many precautions as possible to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others.”

In the letter, Grossman and Blonder went on to write the executive order is “cruel and inhumane.” The order will not offer any protection from terrorist attacks, they wrote.

Arabic and Islamic studies professor Ihsan Bagby said the order is illegal. The Immigration and Naturalization Law of 1965 forbade discrimination based on national origin.

“The logic — which is a good logic — is that a whole nation should not be targeted,” Bagby said.

While acknowledging that not everyone at UK shares their stance in opposition to the order, and reminding faculty members to speak on behalf of themselves, rather than the university, Grossman and Blonder encouraged action against the executive order.

They promoted calling representatives in Congress, lobbying the state government on Feb. 16 and signing petitions found at http://notoimmigrationban.com/ and https://actionnetwork.org/forms/stand-against-the-ban?source=direct_link&.

Grossman and Blonder ended the letter with a statement against the proposed Kentucky legislation that would allow the governor to reorganize the boards of universities. Even if the legislature does pass, there are no indications that the UK Board of Trustees would be affected.