Political science department pulls ‘Turkey and the World’ class after professor’s visa delayed


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Scott Hall at 601 University Place.

Cadence Quaranta, Reporter

Just days before Spring Quarter began, NU students enrolled in the Political Science 390 course “Turkey and the World” were forced to remove the class from their schedules after receiving unexpected news: Ioannis Grigoriadis, the expected visiting professor, had yet to acquire an American visa.

A Greek citizen and university professor in Turkey, Grigoriadis applied for an American visa on Jan. 9, anticipating a mid-January arrival to Northwestern. Almost three months later, however, Grigoriadis said his visa has still yet to be issued.

Instead, his application was placed under “administrative processing,” which according to Grigoriadis, means it has been transferred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for further examination.

Since Jan. 9, Grigoriadis said he has received no further information regarding the status of his visa.

“I am apparently under investigation, but there are no details,” Grigoriadis said. “I haven’t even the slightest hint about what raised this concern regarding my application.”

NU filed a congressional inquiry regarding the status of examination soon after becoming aware of the issue. Grigoriadis said the answer they received was unclear.

Recent data from the U.S. State Department shows that visa numbers are significantly down compared to recent years. It comes at a time when the Trump administrations has cracked down on immigration, though the president has embraced legal immigration.

The federal government has also imposed stricter rules for student and scholar visas. “International students and scholars are under heavy compliance burden,” Ravi Shankar, the director of the International Office, told The Daily in December.

This is not the first time Grigoriadis has applied for an American visa. In fact, he said he studied at Columbia University for two years on a student visa, taught at Princeton University on an academic visa, and traveled to the U.S. on tourist visas about 20 times.

For Grigoriadis, acquiring a visa had become merely a “technicality” of travel. “I never thought this would become an issue,” he said.

Upon further investigation, Grigoriadis discovered that his situation was not the first of its kind. In fact, he said the delay appeared to be part of a larger trend.

“This is about academics who may be traveling a lot, or visiting the United States very frequently for different reasons,” Grigoriadis said.

He said he knew of other foreign academics that had encountered delays when applying for visas to the U.S., as well. Often, he said, academics will receive their visas only after their need has expired, a trend he expects to happen to himself.

“Eventually, my visa will be approved, but it will be too late for the class,” he said.

Grigoriadis said he still intends to visit the University when his visa is issued. Although his class has been canceled, he intends to give lectures and find other ways to interact with the student body.

“I miss interacting with students in class. I took a leave from my university in Turkey because I was looking forward to visiting Northwestern and joining the academic community,” Grigoriadis said. “That is something that unfortunately I cannot do from here, so that is a big loss.”

Students originally enrolled in his “Turkey and the World” also felt the loss.

Medill sophomore Ethan Taylor said he was frustrated by the sudden cancellation as it forced him to restructure his schedule.

Weinberg senior David Fishman was also disappointed, as he was particularly interested in the topic. The cancellation particularly stung because, as a graduating senior, this is his last quarter at Northwestern.

Fishman, a former Daily staffer, said he was especially excited to learn from Grigoriadis because he was a visiting professor.

“Getting that perspective from someone who lives and breathes Turkey was what attracted me most to the class,” Fishman said. “(Now), I won’t have the chance to take this course.”

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