One of the strengths of the North American Society for Bat Research (NASBR) is the diversity of our study organisms, and the diverse scientific methods and sub-disciplines investigated by our members. Similarly, the diversity in our membership represents an important strength of the Society, and NASBR is committed to promoting a platform where all members can equally participate in scientific discourse and the exchange of scientific ideas. The Society expects all participants in any Society business or functions, including, but not limited to, meeting attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, staff, vendors and service providers, to ensure a welcoming environment, and an environment free from belittlement, discrimination, or harassment. As stated in our Code of Conduct, the Society prohibits discrimination or harassment by, or against, any member of NASBR based on age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, or disability. The stated missions of the Society are best met when all participants treat each other with civility, encouragement, tolerance, and mutual respect. Any member of the Society that is subject to, or witnesses, discrimination is encouraged to contact the ombudsperson.
ROLE OF SCIENCE
Scientific evidence is the fundamental underpinning of advancement and discovery in technology, production, agriculture, medicine, and all aspects of nature. The scientific method emphasizes the objective consideration of observations and evidence to develop hypotheses and scientific understanding. As a scientific society representing a diverse membership, the North American Society for Bat Research (NASBR) strongly believes that scientific investigation and discovery flourish when ideas and information are freely exchanged and undergo critical evaluation by members of the scientific community without fear of intimidation, retaliation, or suppression, as outlined in our Inclusion Statement and Code of Conduct. Scientific information forms the basis of decisions and policies made to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural world. NASBR strongly supports objective, evidence-based decision- and policy-making, and denounces malicious efforts to undermine the validity of the scientific process, or active disregard for objective facts.
NASBR STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR BLACK SCIENTISTS
The North American Society for Bat Research (NASBR) is saddened and moved by the long history of violence against the Black community and the systemic racism and intolerance that pervades the United States, including the role that scientists have played in perpetuating racism. We strongly condemn racism and discrimination in all forms, and we believe that science and society at large are best served when people treat each other with compassion, civility, encouragement, and mutual respect. We believe that Black lives matter.
NASBR stands with our Black members, as we do with all members who are people of color. Our Society and its mission are enriched through the diversity of our members. We are committed to being better allies and advocates for all minoritized groups. However, we recognize that our Society’s membership is not reflective of the racial diversity of people in North America, and we aim to change this. Creating an inclusive, diverse, and equitable Society is part of our values, and we strive to continue moving NASBR towards this goal. To achieve this, we are establishing a fund specifically devoted to bringing Black student researchers to our annual conference. Members will provide the initial monies to create this fund, and we will seek funding from larger diversity initiatives to sustain this effort. We will continue to promote participation by people of color in our scientific and educators’ sessions. We will reserve time during our annual conferences for purposeful collaboration towards developing long-term solutions that will allow us to overcome our deficits.
We acknowledge that there is much more work we need to do, and the NASBR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and Board of Directors are eager to work with and to challenge our members to drive positive change. As always, we welcome discussion. We are listening, we will not forget, and we will do better.
CHANGES TO THE STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM
The North American Society for Bat Research (NASBR) is strongly opposed to the modifications to The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP; https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-modifies-temporary-exemptions-nonimmigrant-students-taking-online-courses-during). The modifications do not allow nonimmigrant student visa holders to remain in the United States for the Fall 2020 semester if their course load is fully online. Forcing visa holders to leave the United States is likely to set back many international students currently residing in the USA by delaying their degrees, research, grants, publications, and more. The modifications to the program will negatively impact hundreds of thousands of international undergraduate and graduate students, with broader effects on research labs and scientists at all career stages.
Many universities and institutions have already committed to a hybrid or fully-online format for the Fall 2020 semester, which now places many international students into an impracticable, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous situation. The actions taken by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), mere weeks before the Fall 2020 semesters begin, would dictate that many students would be forced to leave the United States, despite the high level of risk presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASBR represents an increasingly diverse community, including many international students. We stand with our students and encourage our members to work toward whatever options are available to protect our membership and our international representatives. Those members wishing to voice their opinion should call their congressional representatives and their respective institutions.