Kitchener-Waterloo

University of Waterloo prof boycotts U.S. travel under Trump presidency

For the next four years, Josh Neufeld will be staying close to home. The microbial ecologist and University of Waterloo professor decided on Friday to start a one-man boycott of U.S. travel to protesting Donald Trump's presidency.

Refusal to travel carries professional consequences, said Neufeld

Josh Neufeld, pictured here TedXUW in 2014, said he decided to boycott all travel to the United States while Donald Trump is president. "This is not a move in opposition of science. This is a political statement that has consequences to science." (YouTube)

For the next four years, Josh Neufeld will be staying close to home. 

The microbial ecologist, and University of Waterloo professor, decided on Friday to start a one-man boycott of U.S. travel as a way of protesting Donald Trump's presidency.

"I was deeply disturbed through the primary process and the election cycle," Neufeld told CBC News. "The last straw was his speech on inauguration day."

"The real red flags for me were human rights, LGBT issues, the climate and the treatment of scientists — especially those involved in climate change research — and immigration," said Neufeld. 

"Each one of these, the promised policy platforms couldn't be more opposite than my own values. My most deeply held values."

Neufeld waited until Trump was officially sworn in before canceling future flights to the U.S.

Professional consequences

He's now backed out of a seminar series at Oregon State University and has a new textbook coming out that he won't be representing south of the border. 

"It does hurt my own career and my own science program," said Neufeld, adding that he's trying to minimize the impact of withdrawing from seminars and conferences by being available over video web conferences.

"I think its unfortunate that it's come to this but I'm willing to make this as a contribution to a protest, which I think is global in scope, and it's something I can do."

News of his boycott spread on social media, with several people criticizing Neufeld for a move they saw as ineffective and inconsequential.

Neufeld said he was prepared for the backlash, and said he knows it may mean he's hurting the same scientists he's trying to support.

There's a part of him that hopes it doesn't catch on. 

"This is not a move in opposition of science. This is a political statement that has consequences to science."

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