We Won! UMass Backs Down!

UMass issued the following announcement today:

The University of Massachusetts Amherst today announced that it will accept Iranian students into science and engineering programs, developing individualized study plans to meet the requirements of federal sanctions law and address the impact on students. The decision to revise the university’s approach follows consultation with the State Department and outside counsel.

“This approach reflects the university’s longstanding commitment to wide access to educational opportunities,” said Michael Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement. “We have always believed that excluding students from admission conflicts with our institutional values and principles. It is now clear, after further consultation and deliberation, that we can adopt a less restrictive policy.”

Federal law, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, requires that the U.S. Department of State deny visas to Iranian students wishing to engage in certain fields of study related to the energy sector, nuclear science, nuclear engineering or a related field at U.S. colleges and universities. To comply with the law and its impacts, UMass Amherst will develop individualized study plans as appropriate based on a student’s projected coursework and research in conjunction with an offer of admission. The plan will be updated as required during a student’s course of study.

NBC News has more on the story.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to the university to express their opposition to the university’s policy of prohibiting Iranian nationals from applying to select departments in engineering and the natural sciences. This was a story, I’m proud to say, that we broke here at this blog (thanks to a tip from a professor in Colorado), and which rapidly got picked up in the national  media. Well done, everyone!


  1. J. Otto Pohl February 18, 2015 at 2:48 pm | #

    That was fast. Very much unlike UIUC and Salaita.

  2. troy grant February 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm | #

    Congratulations! Here is a good video about racism, among other things:

  3. patchenmarkell February 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm | #


  4. aletheia33 February 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm | #

    now on to any other u.s. universities that have instituted similar regimes.

  5. Thomas Leo Dumm February 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm | #

    Excellent news. Now it is up to the departments previously threatened with the policy of group exclusion to be vigilant, so that it won’t sneak in through the back door as the de facto new policy on a “one by one” basis.

  6. gstally February 18, 2015 at 5:51 pm | #

  7. jonnybutter February 18, 2015 at 7:12 pm | #


  8. Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant February 19, 2015 at 8:26 am | #

    Yay! I could get used to this “winning” thing!! (But I won’t; on to the next battle!!)

  9. jonnybutter February 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm | #

    btw, this supposed rule or non-rule or whatever it is? stupid stupid stupid. so stupid you have to say it three times.

  10. The Temporary Name February 26, 2015 at 2:29 pm | #

    A piece on the student who seems to have been the trigger for the policy. The policy seems even crazier.


    • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant February 27, 2015 at 9:28 am | #


      Inconsistent with my usual impulses, I am cautiously inclined to some optimism for a positive outcome for this student, due to the media spotlight on the UMass case regarding its treatment of Iranian students, in the absence of any rejection by the Feds of her visa to continue her studies in the U.S. in her chosen discipline.

      However, there is this in the article: “The new UMass policy, announced Feb. 6, barred Iranian nationals from an array of science and engineering fields beyond what the law outlined. Asked why it was being done then, a university spokesman said the decision was ‘prompted by an inquiry from a student,’ but didn’t say more.”

      Did an Iranian student make an innocent inquiry pursuant to remaining on the good side of American law, unwittingly inciting an unintended panic by the school — or was this “inquiry from a student” something of a more suspect nature, such as an effort to sabotage any positive relations between the U.S. and Iran/Iranians? The timing of the coincidence between these events at UMass and the impending visit by Bumbly Nutty-Yahoo to address our Congress Critters at the invite of Speaker Boner is striking. I’ll cop to a level of excess suspicion, but given the treatment of Salaita a few months back at another university and the ill-fated/ill-advised (and legally suspect) attack on Brooklyn College over that BDS thing — I can’t quite place this latest dustup outside the realm of the untoward motives of problematic political interests.

  11. schu123tyler February 26, 2015 at 10:19 pm | #

    Here’s an important update with new information. There is more to be done.


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