UMass Amherst’s Chancellor apologizes for the Iranian controversy

Chancellor addressing the Faculty Senate_155107

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) –   The UMass Chancellor has apologized, but faculty and students want to hear more than just…”I’m sorry.”

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy admitted Thursday, he should’ve taken a different approach before issuing a blanket ban on Iranian nationals for certain science and engineering graduate programs.

He said “I have accepted responsibility for the way it came out. We’ve come together as a community, and we now understand how to move forward. That will be much more inclusive, much more consultation, in terms of how we comply with the law.”

UMass announced the ban on February 13th. It immediately caused uproar. Many people at Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting said, “This should have never been put in place in the first place.”

UMass reversed the policy five days later. Students and faculty called it a step in the right direction. But they’re concerned about the long-term impact.

Right now 28 of 67 Iranian graduate students here at UMass Amherst are enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math programs. One computer science professor told me these programs compete against other schools to recruit top talents.

Emery Berger, a computer science professor, told 22News “Iranian students are the 3rd largest foreign cohort of students. You know, we are concerned that this is giving people the wrong impression. This should’ve never ever happened, and it can’t happen again. And people who are responsible should pay some kind of price.”

PH.D candidate from Iran Mohsen Jalali said “Right now there’s a community of Iranians who are locals due to UMass, you know, they’ve come here and stayed here since the 80’s. You know, the point that this community is going to ultimately fade away, that was like a nightmare.”

Students and faculty asked the chancellor to form a task force as they move forward. Subbaswamy agreed.

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