Move SfN to a welcoming country, and make it more inclusive

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Dear SfN Leadership,

As you are aware the "The Trump Travel Ban" prevented many members of the SfN to attend SfN meetings in the USA. As per the Aug 17, 2018 statement by the SfN President Richard Huganir, the Society reaffirms the need for free exchange of ideas and their ability to cross borders for knowledge sharing. Although this statement is reassuring, it falls well short of the solution needed to welcome and enable every single member of the SfN to attend. While the ability to change the immigration policy may be out of the Society's control, what is definitely in your control is the power to choose the location for its all-important annual meeting. Given SfN is a large society of over 35,000 neuroscientists, we urge the leadership to recognize the VAST diversity in its membership comprising of over EIGHTY countries, and choose a location that enables every single member to attend, and feel welcome and included in the Society's important mission.

SfN has been hosted for over 45 years in the USA, and this may be a good time and a very good reason to move it outside of USA to cater to ALL the members. Finding a more travel-friendly location in a more welcoming country is definitely possible, as SfN had indeed been organized twice outside of the USA in Toronto, Canada in 1976 and 1988, and making this happen is only a matter of will and interest from the leadership. And, it's just about time.

If possible, making this change for SfN 2019 would be ideal to minimize the continuing loss of attendance. However, we realize this sudden change for a such big conference may incur financial costs, and can take more than a year, and hence targeting a better venue for SfN 2020 would also be fine. 

In addition, we request the Society to allow for full refund of the registration fees in exceptional circumstances such as the denial of visa or entry to the host country. As the students and researchers that are likely to be denied visa are often the ones with access to limited travel funds, non-refund of fees on top of visa denial would hit them doubly hard, and that does not serve the core mission of this Society.

Thank you for considering this very important request, and making SfN as inclusive as it is diverse. There is a considerable section of SfN membership who would be happy to help find a venue and solve any administrative or logistical challenges that may arise.

Let's keep in touch via the twitter hashtag #MoreInclusiveSfN.



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