AMHERST, Mass. (WTNH) – UMass Amherst has banned Iranian international students from graduate programs in engineering and natural sciences. The university is trying to align its policies with Legislation Congress enacted back in August 2012.
That legislation denied visas for Iranian students to come here and study in the United States if that meant that they were going to make a career in the energy or nuclear plants in Iran. The National Iranial American Council claims the university’s interpretation of the law is flawed, and that the school may be violating protections against racism and discrimination.
Some students that our sister station WWLP spoke with about the issue said they don’t approve of the university’s decision.
“That is 100% not okay. That’s basically racism,” UMass junior Robert Farmer said. “They’re prejudging the people that want to study sciences and just assume that they’re going to use it for something negative. That’s not okay, that’s limiting.”
“I just don’t think that every kid would do that; I just think its discriminating and it takes away their opportunities,” said Danielle Plasse, a junior at UMass.
One graduate student told WWLP that she understands the university’s position, but says there might be another answer. Emily Harrington said, “It could be a threat to us, but I think that there are other actions that can probably be taken. Instead of telling someone that they can’t study what they want to over here, then maybe they could take other precautions.”
Each visa application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the federal law does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals from studying advanced sciences and engineering.
Most of the students whom we spoke with said they had no idea the school had made this decision.