A few weeks ago University of Massachusetts at Amherst declared that under a new policy, students from Iran will no longer be accepted to certain engineering and science programs.
After the decision prompted a lot of outrage, with students criticizing the institution’s discriminatory policies, the university announced on Wednesday it “revised” the ban on Iranian students after discussing the matter with its attorneys and State Department officials.
"We have always believed that excluding students from admission conflicts with our institutional values and principles," said Michael Malone, the university's vice chancellor for research and engagement. "It is now clear, after further consultation and deliberation, that we can adopt a less restrictive policy."
UMass Amherst defended its original policy by saying it didn’t want to violate a 2012 U.S. law that prohibits Iranians from studying subjects related to nuclear or energy research at American colleges.
A lot of media reports are stating that the ban has been “reversed” when in fact it has been revised. The university is still adamant that it will “comply with the law and its impacts” and would develop "individualized study plans" for Iranian students – the details of which have not yet been disclosed.
One of the endorsers of the #WeAreAllUMass online campaign, which was set up in solidarity with the banned students, pointed out that Iranian nationals will have to wait for the university’s approval after filing for the individualized study plans.
UMass has not reversed their decision regarding Iranian students, but instead, revised it. #WeAreAllUMass (1/5)— Hillary (@Hillary_Hui) February 19, 2015
Iranian nationals will have to file individual study plans that show what courses they will take. #WeAreAllUMass (2/5)— Hillary (@Hillary_Hui) February 19, 2015
If UMass doesn't repeal this decision, what does this mean for other students from countries with nuclear power? #WeAreAllUMass (4/5)— Hillary (@Hillary_Hui) February 19, 2015
Chinese nationals? Russians? Will they also be discriminated against and maybe barred from universities in the future? #WeAreAllUMass (5/5)— Hillary (@Hillary_Hui) February 19, 2015
Meanwhile, members of the Facebook group “No to the UMass Educational Ban on Iranian Nationals” have praised the university’s decision to reconsider the original policy.
“We are pleased to hear that the administration has heard our community’s voice regarding the new policy on Iranian nationals. However ... we want this policy reversed, not revised, and the language we are seeing ... is not all-inclusive."