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Last Friday’s executive order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen raised legitimate concerns for many members of the higher education community across the nation. SCO is working to identify and assist any of our students impacted by the travel ban by providing information and guidance to appropriate service agencies and other organizations. We are supportive of all our students no matter their country of origin.
As president, I share these concerns of students or employees impacted by this action. Like many colleges across the nation, members of the SCO family are impacted by these measures. We are coordinating with the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry as the ASCO schools collectively co-sign two letters to the President describing the challenges and hardships this ban creates for academic institutions, their students, and families.
One letter is from the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions and the other one is through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, the American Council of Education has also organized a joint letter of 46 different organizations sent to the President.
SCO advises nationals and their families born in the affected countries to avoid international travel until additional clarification is made about the situation. This includes citizens, nationals, passport holders, and dual nationals from the impacted countries.
In recent years, American optometry has made great advances in sharing our knowledge and expertise with healthcare professionals around the world. Together, the colleges and schools of optometry are populated by students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of backgrounds, similar to the vast array of the general public served as our patients.
SCO is committed to working with colleagues throughout the academic and healthcare communities to raise these concerns to policymakers. The college invites impacted students or employees to reach out to the administration for guidance or assistance with questions about immigration or travel-related issues.
As an institution committed to educating students without respect to their nationality or country of origin, and as healthcare provider to patients from all backgrounds, I want to stress that accessibility is one of the values that SCO will continue to advance and that SCO is open to all, no matter of your country of origin, the color of your religious beliefs, skin color, political leaning, gender, or sexual orientation. SCO appreciates the contributions of all who make up the SCO family.
Lewis Reich, O.D., Ph.D.
Southern College of Optometry