K-State student forced to drop classes due to Trump travel ban

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Farzaneh Ziaee, graduate student in physics. (Photo Courtesy of the K-State Physics Department)

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Feb. 3 to clarify why Farzaneh Ziaee was in Iran.

One Kansas State international student, who is in Iran on her way back from conducting research in Germany, cannot return to Manhattan to continue her studies due to President Donald Trump’s executive order travel ban.

Farzaneh Ziaee, graduate student in physics, is in Tehran, Iran. She went to Germany for an experiment involving her adviser, Daniel Rolles, assistant professor in physics, and DESY, a German research center. Before returning to Manhattan, Ziaee stopped in Iran for her husband’s Ph.D. defense in Tehran.

Now, she can’t return to Kansas, even though her visa was approved before Trump’s Friday executive order that bans nationals of Iran and six other countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.

“Renewing my visa to come back to the U.S. underwent an extreme administrative processing, and unfortunately it was approved a few days before the executive order signature,” Ziaee wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Because of this, the issuance my visa, which was approved, already is suspended.”

“The day after my visa was approved, I got to know about the president’s order, and the released draft was showing that there would be a suspension in getting my visa to come back to the U.S.,” Ziaee continued.

Ziaee said her visa application took five months to be approved. Now, a 90-day wait period to re-enter the country has already affected her and her husband’s education and research.

“Waiting for at least three more months for a graduate student doing her research could have detrimental consequences,” Ziaee wrote. “Moreover, I had to finish my core courses. At the beginning of the semester, I had registered in two of them that, due to this problem, I dropped them as there was no anticipation of how long it would take to be able to attend the classes. In addition, my husband was supposed to work as a post doctoral scholar in the department of chemistry, which is suspended, too.”

Myers: ‘We cannot achieve our goals without a diverse population’

K-State President Richard Myers told the university community and international students, faculty and staff in a letter Tuesday that a diverse population is necessary to achieve the university’s goals.

“You are invaluable members of this university,” Myers wrote. “Your contributions enrich our experiences, knowledge and ability to view the world through a global lens. We want you and your families here with us and will support you any way we can.”

“To remain focused on becoming a top 50 public research university, we must continue to work together on global problems and have an impact around the world,” Myers continued. “We cannot achieve our goals without a diverse population that includes international students, faculty and staff.”

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President General Richard Myers watches the halftime show performed by The Pride of Wildcat Land in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 22, 2016. (File Photo by Austin Fuller | The Collegian)
The letter came four days after Trump’s executive order that bans citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.

In a statement on Sunday, the university said there are 63 students and three scholars from those countries at K-State. Others may also be affected.

The university said it will post updates at www.k-state.edu/media/update/international.html and students, faculty and staff who may be affected can contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

Myers is a retired Air Force general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he served as the principal military adviser to former President George W. Bush during the earliest stages of the War on Terror and 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, issued a statement on the executive order on Monday.

“Keeping Americans safe should be our federal government’s top priority,” the statement said. “Strengthening our immigration system is critical to that end, and it’s common sense to have appropriate vetting procedures in place for individuals wishing to travel to our country.”

“While I support thorough vetting, I do not support restricting the rights of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents,” Moran continued. “Furthermore, far-reaching national security policy should always be devised in consultation with Congress and relevant government agencies.”

Research, religion and politics

Ziaee said in her email that she does not believe Trump’s ban was motivated by religion.

“I do believe that this order is rooted from political views rather than religious points of view,” Ziaee wrote. “But unfortunately, this will affect the academics in a very broad sense. If you just have a look at Iranian scholars in the U.S. academics, you might conclude about the undeniable role of my country-mates that have been working for the United States by their hearts. This does not relate to the religion at all. The U.S. has been the country where no one asks about your personal beliefs as long as you are following the Constitution.”

If she were able to tell Trump what she thought of his travel ban, Ziaee said she would remind him of former President Barack Obama’s advice: The U.S. government, the largest organization on Earth, can’t be managed the same way as a family business.

Ziaee said she chose to study at K-State because of the physics department’s reputation as one of the best optical sciences programs in the U.S. However, her research will be disrupted because of Trump’s executive order.

“I am hired in the United States to make progress for this country, and any disruption would cause many irrecoverable impacts,” Ziaee wrote. “Very soon under this condition, elites and scholars would choose another country for conducting their research.”

“As a graduate student who did her trip for the sake of improvements in our experimental research we are doing in the department of physics, this political decision was very, very disappointing and discouraging,” Ziaee continued. “I chose to study in the United States due to this fact that it gives more weight to science, but I doubt these kinds of decisions are American.”

If you or someone you know is affected by Trump’s executive order and would like to talk with a Collegian reporter, email [email protected]

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Jason Tidd
Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.
  • Me

    Disgusting.

  • ThinkingAboutThis

    I appreciate what this lady has went through. My cousin had a friend detained. I think we need to think about the 350 million Americans in the United States. If a few people are inconvenienced by this ban while we improve the vetting process; I would say that’s okay. There are many foreign students that contribute to the KState campus. We should embrace that but also understand that there are those out there with bad intentions we must weed out.

    • Ruben Seeber

      Thank you!! The President’s #1 job is to ensure security for all America. I feel for her but there’s too many SJW’s getting upset about a minor inconvenience.

      • Education

        “Minor inconvenience” being her education… and progress in physics in the U.S. but sure.

        • ThinkingAboutThis

          Ruben…. She probably plays a vital role & is a lovely person. When there is a whole list I could place here of those the U.S. have passed on as okay in the past ten years…that have been involved in acts of violence and terrorism towards us ….how can you be so selfish?

  • FlynnRiley

    I have never ever ever ever ever been inconvenienced before. This is a made up word, who made this word up I demand to know?!

  • FlynnRiley

    Storming the Beaches on D-Day was not an inconvenience, neither was the massacre at peral harbor. Leaving Europe by the hundreds of thousands was not an inconvenience. But we can be inconvenienced thanks to those who lived through times like those, sitting in an airport doesn’t equate to inconvenience,

  • EMAWMod

    So if you went to Cancun for a vacation then discovered you can not return home for 90 days… Is it still merely a convenience? Is your job a convenience? Is your savings a convenience? There are some real impacts associated with any travel ban.

    Freedom comes with risk and consequence. That is why Bravery is associated with Freedom. Our leadership is no longer Brave. Trump became popular by spewing fear and was elected by the Affraid.

  • Citizen for justice

    Unless I miss my guess, as I was a graduate student coordinator on K-State Campus for a couple of years, she is being paid by campus research grants for her education at K-State. This amounts to approximately $40k per year salary as a Graduate Research Assistant or Graduate Teaching Assistant, as well as medical insurance, tuition, books and other research incidentals. She can have a little patience and stay in Iran and visit her family some more, and once this all gets re-worked, she can come back to Kansas to continue her studies on her F1 Student Visa. I would also venture to guess that those here on F1 Student Visas will probably be the first ones able to come back.
    As far as her Obama quote about not running the US like a family business, I say to her that our government is working in everyone’s best interests right now, not just our immigrant population. He’s not running it like a family business, and he’s not done anything that Obama and Bush before him haven’t done, for exactly the same reasons. You’ll be back in Kansas in time for the summer and fall semesters.