Georgetown graduate student who studies migrant labor issues is denied visa to study at university's campus in Qatar, raising academic freedom concerns.
A master’s student at Georgetown University who researches human rights and migrant labor in the Middle East was denied a student visa to spend the fall semester at the university’s Qatar campus, renewing concerns about the limits on academic freedom at American campuses in the region. Now a master's student at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, Kristina Bogos had as an undergraduate studied abroad at New York University's branch in the United Arab Emirates, where she had written critically about her alma mater's treatment of the workers constructing its Abu Dhabi campus. Upon arriving in Qatar for the first time last June, Bogos said she was detained for five hours. She was told by Qatari immigration officials that state security had placed her on a “blacklist.” As Bogos recounted in a Dec. 15 op-ed that appeared in The New York Times, “Qatari immigration officers informed me that my name appeared on a ‘blacklist’ maintained by member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council because I had ‘made trouble’ in the U.A.E. Later, Emirati officials told the State Department that they had placed me on the blacklist for unspecified ‘security-related reasons.’” (A State Department official communicated this information to Bogos in an email seen by Inside Higher Ed.) Bogos was, however, allowed to enter Qatar on a 30-day tourist visa in June. Over the summer, she said, she departed the country twice -- once for South Korea and once for Greece -- to renew the tourist visa. Each time she said she was detained upon re-entry, for one hour in the first case and seven in the second. On Aug. 3 -- less than three weeks before classes were to start -- she learned that her student visa that would have allowed her to stay in Qatar for the fall semester and study at Georgetown’s campus there had been denied. With no option for completing the study abroad experience she had specially negotiated with Georgetown administrators, she departed Qatar for the U.S. on Aug. 22. In her New York Times op-ed, Bogos wrote not only about her visa denial but also of her discovery that her personal email had been hacked last spring -- she suspects the U.A.E. -- and of being under surveillance during her summer in Qatar. The headline for the op-ed is “American Universities in a Gulf of Hypocrisy.” “I think these universities made a lot of sacrifices when they opened these campuses” in the Gulf, Bogos said. “One is to let the government dictate what research is and isn’t acceptable.” Research on the conditions of migrant laborers is highly sensitive in the Gulf countries. The Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom wrote in a letter last week to the presidents of Georgetown and NYU that the denial of Bogos’s visa, “and indications that information provided to Qatar by the United Arab Emirates played a part in that denial, call into question your universities’ ability to ensure the academic freedom of...Read the full article here