Message from the Executive Committee of the International Communication Association (ICA) regarding the Executive Order issued by the US President on 27 January 2017
President Donald Trump’s January 27 executive order bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocks citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), refugees or otherwise, from entering the US for 90 days. This order has raised serious concerns for many members of the ICA community, particularly those intending to participate in the upcoming annual conference in San Diego. These changes run counter to ICA’s commitment to ensure full and equal participation of all members of our organization and participants in our global academic community.
Over the past 48 hours, the ICA leadership has closely monitored this evolving situation, and will continue to assess the policy’s impact on members and attendees. We recognize members' concerns regarding the uncertain and changing situation, appreciate your feedback and perspectives, and will remain in dialogue with our entire academic community as this situation evolves.
In the meantime, our immediate response includes the following actions, which aim to preserve our right as scholars to freely present our work and to collaborate with our peers:
- ICA has retained legal counsel specializing in visa issues to advise any member seeking to visit the US for the San Diego conference, including assistance in interpreting the new federal policy and applying for entry. This service is offered at no charge to ICA members and other potential attendees. E-mail Laura Sawyer, Executive Director, to be connected with counsel.
- The ICA office, as always, remains ready to assist members in procuring visas to attend ICA conferences and events. Standard invitation letters for visa purposes are available, as always, via the submission website. If you have a special circumstance and need additional help or special wording in your letter, please contact Julie Randolph, ICA Senior Manager of Member Services & Governance, for assistance.
- The ICA San Diego 2017 conference will support reliable teleconferencing and/or prerecorded presentation for those of you who cannot attend the conference in San Diego but would like to preserve your ability to present your work. If you are on the program and wish to have your session scheduled into one of our dedicated landline-internet rooms for guaranteed ability to teleconference in to present your work, please e-mail Laura Sawyer, ICA Executive Director, before Monday, 6 February, so that she can note this request and designate your session to be scheduled in one of these rooms. She will then provide further instructions to you and your session moderator/chair regarding teleconferencing.
- If you are personally affected by this policy, have already registered, and wish to cancel your registration, please e-mail Laura Sawyer, ICA Executive Director. The cancellation fee will be waived for those unable to attend because of this ban.
At the San Diego 2017 annual conference, we have spearheaded special panels directly associated with this policy, recognizing that rigorous dialogue is essential at this moment. Our opening plenary features scholars discussing the issue of the “border” in San Diego, across ethnicity, religious and national identity, gender, and beyond. Another includes international members discussing current global populist movements and cultures. Several preconferences, Blue Sky workshops, numerous sessions, and a special exhibit on propaganda also address the current environment for academics internationally. At these events, we invite members to dialogue regarding concerns including recent policy actions in the US and elsewhere.
We reiterate ICA’s dedication to a global and diverse exchange of knowledge and perspectives and our mission-- to protect the free exchange of diverse ideas among our members and attendees. We reaffirm our belief that scholarship is expanded and enhanced by our differences. Indeed, we cherish the ideals of inclusion and diversity and we celebrate difference; we do not tolerate speech or behavior that threatens the safety of—or discriminates in any way—against any person or group. Our leadership and our staff are committed to preserving these ideals. We reiterate our commitment to working to ensure that ICA as a whole, and our San Diego 2017 annual conference in particular, are physically safe, inclusive, and welcoming environments for the exchange of knowledge and for the enhancement of scholarship and community.
The Executive Committee of the International Communication Association
PengHwa Ang, President (Nanyang Technological U, SINGAPORE)
Paula Gardner, President-Elect & Conference Planner (McMaster U, CANADA)
Francois Heinderyckx, Finance Chair (U Libre de Bruxelles, BELGIUM)
Amy Jordan, Immediate Past President (U of Pennsylvania, USA)
Patricia Moy, President-Elect Select (U of Washington, USA)
Laura Sawyer, Executive Director (ICA Headquarters, Washington, DC, USA)
Peter Vorderer, Past President (U of Mannheim, GERMANY)