Electrical engineering department discusses immigration ban

Feb. 2, 2017, 1:43 a.m.

The Department of Electrical Engineering held a special meeting to discuss the impact of the recent immigration ban on Wednesday.

“We want to show that we’re a community and that we care about our students,” said department manager Mary K. McMahon. “We don’t have all the answers, but we want to show support.”

Multiple students, including those not directly affected by the ban, attended the meeting in order to understand the situation at hand and connect with other members in the community. Attendees also expressed their worries about the future if the ban were to become permanent.

“[The ban] is undemocratic,” said Milind Rao M.S. ʼ15, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in electrical engineering.

Those directly affected, such as an Iranian volunteer researcher who chose to remain anonymous, voiced concerns about the uncertainty that lies ahead.

“I haven’t seen my parents in two years, and I don’t know the next time I’ll [be able] to see my family,” the researcher said.

The researcher, who has applied to graduate school at Stanford, worries that a permanent ban may mean leaving the country.

Another affected person, an Iranian entrepreneur and prospective student who asked not to be named, is currently in the United States on the Optional Practical Training (OPT) scheme, which allows her to work for one year on a student visa. She worried that the ban may hinder her work and discourage investments in her company, Solve City.

“It’s just very stressful,” she said.

Some students, such as Rao, call on Stanford to take a stand against the ban.

“Stanford has been making statements and has been very supportive,” Rao added, “but I wish they were more vocal about how bad this ban is. The president [of Stanford] should release daily statements concerning the ban because his voice [has an impact].”

One thing, however, is clear: Graduate students are concerned, and some fear what the future may hold.

“I don’t [think] anybody [knows] what the future will be like — not even Stanford. We just have to wait and see,” said Sid Assawaworrarit M.S. ʼ16, a third-year Ph.D. student in electrical engineering.


Contact Aparna Verma at averma2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

A wild soul with a love for prose, adventure and the sea. Doesn't quite know how to swim, but we'll get there someday.

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