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Defend freedom

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is more important than ever now. If you can afford to, support the ACLU’s efforts by donating and/or joining.

Several tech executives are offering to match donations, so this can be a way to multiply the effect of yours. 5 Feb update: Here is a compiled list that appears to be up to date.

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UCLA and the University of California on immigration and refugee ban

A message from the UCLA Office of the Chancellor to our campus community:

This past week, as most of you are well aware, President Trump signed an executive order that suspends entry into the United States for various categories of travelers. The order includes refugees, immigrants, non-immigrant visa holders, and possibly lawful U.S. permanent residents from seven majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The executive order directly challenges the core values and mission of universities to encourage the free exchange of scholars, knowledge and ideas. It may affect the ability to travel for thousands of students and scholars now in the US diligently pursuing their scholarly careers as well as countless others who wish to take advantage of our open universities to pursue knowledge and truth. Although the breadth of the Order is not yet clear, it also could adversely affect the ability to travel for many faculty, students, and staff in our own community.

Already, universities across the US as well as scholarly societies such as the APLU and the AAU have issued powerful statements decrying this action. UCLA joins this rising chorus in expressing opposition to the executive order. As your Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor, we want to reassure the campus community as a whole and especially those directly affected by this order that the University of California and our campus leadership stand by our core values.

We are actively engaged with the UC Office of the President to understand the full implications of the order and to find ways of protecting members of our community. The integrity of our mission as a research university and the well-being of our campus community are paramount.

The UC Office of the President has advised UC community members from these seven countries who hold a visa to enter the United States or who are lawful permanent residents do not travel outside of the United States. In the meantime, if you are a student, scholar or faculty who have visa issues or questions that deserve our attention, please contact the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars at (310) 825-1681.

Please also see below a message that was sent today from UC President Janet Napolitano and signed by leadership from throughout the University of California.

Sincerely,
Gene D. Block, Chancellor
Scott L. Waugh, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

President Janet Napolitano and the Chancellors of the University of California today (Jan. 29) issued the following statement:

We are deeply concerned by the recent executive order that restricts the ability of our students, faculty, staff, and other members of the UC community from certain countries from being able to enter or return to the United States. While maintaining the security of the nation’s visa system is critical, this executive order is contrary to the values we hold dear as leaders of the University of California. The UC community, like universities across the country, has long been deeply enriched by students, faculty, and scholars from around the world, including the affected countries, coming to study, teach, and research. It is critical that the United States continues to welcome the best students, scholars, scientists, and engineers of all backgrounds and nationalities.

We are committed to supporting all members of the UC community who are impacted by this executive action.

President Janet Napolitano, University of California
Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, University of California, Berkeley
Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter, University of California, Davis
Chancellor Howard Gillman, University of California, Irvine
Chancellor Gene Block, University of California, Los Angeles
Chancellor Dorothy Leland, University of California, Merced
Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, University of California, Riverside
Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, University of California, San Diego
Chancellor Sam Hawgood, University of California, San Francisco
Chancellor Henry T. Yang, University of California, Santa Barbara
Chancellor George R. Blumenthal, University of California, Santa Cruz

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Petition against cuts at the University of Leicester

The large majority of faculty in the mathematics department at the University of Leicester (in England) are being forced to re-apply for their jobs, on roughly one month’s notice. Of the 21 permanent faculty, 6 will not be re-appointed. (More details are available on Tim Gowers’s blog.)

The rationale offered by management for the cuts is a large predicted budget deficit across the University, but mathematics will suffer disproportionately: the plan is for 4.5% funding cuts overall, but more like 20% to the mathematics department. (In any case, analysis by the University and College Union disputes management’s financial claims.)

One central issue here is that universities operate on a long time scale. It takes decades to build a strong university, but only a few months to lose the confidence of students and faculty. Leicester administrators are acting with a speed and recklessness that would hardly be acceptable in the corporate world, let alone in higher education. The university needs to pause and rethink its whole plan, for mathematics as well as for other departments.

Please sign the petition, calling for these measures to be stopped.

Thanks to Artie Prendergast-Smith for alerting me to this story.

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