More than 3,000 academics from around the world have signed on to a call to boycott international academic conferences held in the United States in solidarity with those potentially affected by President Trump’s executive order (currently suspended) barring entry by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. The ban on entry into the U.S. has left some students and scholars with valid visas stranded outside the country while others are stuck inside it, unable to leave the U.S. for personal or professional reasons, for fear they won't be let back in.  The entry ban, which potentially affects nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, has been widely condemned as discriminatory and as undermining values central to American higher education such as inclusion, openness and internationalism. Civil rights groups have described it as a pretext for banning the entry of Muslims, which President Trump explicitly called for during his campaign.

The LSA has stated its opposition to the ban, both as signatory of a joint statement endorsed by over 160 scientific societies and on its own, as a society devoted to the scientific study of language.

Such a boycott would have severe repercussions for the LSA's ability to present cutting-edge research at its Annual Meetings and Institutes, and to promote scholarly collaboration, dialogue and exchange among linguists around the world.

Direct Effects

  • Fewer participants and therefore reduced opportunities for scholarly exchange at the Linguistic Institute.
  • Fewer participants and therefore reduced opportunities for scholarly exchange at the Annual Meeting.
  • Fewer abstracts submitted for the Annual Meeting and published in the Proceedings.

On another level, two of the LSA's three principal revenue streams -- membership dues and Annual Meeting registration (the third revenue stream being subscriptions to Language) -- would be compromised.  Meeting registrations would be directly affected as fewer people would attend the meeting . Indirectly, fewer people submitting abstracts for the meeting would result in a loss of membership revenue, as the LSA typically receives a large membership "bump" at the time of abstract submission. 

Other possible effects:

  • Meeting attrition penalties:  When the LSA signs a contract with an Annual Meeting hotel, we agree that a certain number of rooms will be occupied by our attendees over the course of the meeting.  This is called our "room block."  If the LSA fails to fill a certain percentage (usually 80%) of the room block, we are subject to attrition penalties and loss of money-saving concessions, untlimately costing the LSA up to tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Increased costs of providing access to individuals affected by the travel ban.  The LSA is committed to making the content at the Annual Meeting available free of charge to individuals who are unable to travel to the U.S. because of  the travel ban.