Statement by Higher Education Organizations on the Imprisonment of Xiyue Wang
July 27, 2017

Colleges and universities throughout the United States, and in many countries throughout the world, are firmly committed to the principles of intellectual inquiry and scholarly exchange. They recognize that learning and increased understanding depend on the ability of students, teachers and scholars to engage in dialogue and research. For this reason many institutions in this country have been strong advocates against policies that limit or discourage international movement by scholars or jeopardize their ability to conduct their research. The imprisonment of Xiyue Wang, an American graduate student conducting historical research in Iran, imperils both of these principles. 

Mr. Wang is a fourth-year graduate student in history at Princeton University with an interest in Eurasian languages and late 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history. In connection with his doctoral research he traveled to Iran to study Farsi and examine historical documents related to the Qajar dynasty that ruled from 1785 to 1925. He described his research plans in advance to the Iranian authorities and the libraries and archives he planned to visit, and he only sought materials that he needed for his dissertation. His research was solely for the purpose of completing his academic work.  

Scholars around the world engage every day in archival research in pursuit of historical knowledge. Mr. Wang’s imprisonment can only have a chilling effect on historical research and scholarly exchange in Iran and throughout the world, and this, in turn, can only lead to diminished understanding and greater mistrust, to the detriment of all. We urge the safe release of Xiyue Wang and call for him to be allowed to return home to reunite with his wife and young son and to complete his degree.  

American Council on Education 

American Association of Colleges for Teachers Education 

American Association of Community Colleges

American Association of State Colleges and Universities

American Association of University Professors

American College Personnel Association 

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers

Association of American Universities

Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities

Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities

Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Association of Research Libraries 

College and University Professional Association for Human Resources

Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Council for Christian Colleges and Universities 

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Council for Opportunity in Education

Council of Graduate Schools

Council of Independent Colleges 


Higher Learning Commission

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

National Association of Colleges and Employers

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities 

NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges 

WASC Senior College and University Commission