Mount Holyoke signs amicus brief

The July 6 guidance from ICE puts at risk the wellbeing, education, aspirations and freedom of Mount Holyoke College’s international students, as well as the millions of other students and graduates pursuing education and work in the U.S.

By Christian Feuerstein

Mount Holyoke College is joining an amicus brief in support of Harvard’s and MIT’s lawsuit challenging the forthcoming U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rules barring online study for international students. 

“My objection to this guidance is ideological and profound,” said President Sonya Stephens. “International students, faculty and staff have been an integral part of the Mount Holyoke community and of the intellectual and cultural life of the College since 1839.” 

The College joins other members of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration in signing the brief. The alliance called the guidance a “problematic and harmful policy” in a July 7, 2020, statement. 

On July 8, 2020, President Stephens released a statement to the Mount Holyoke community reiterating her support for international students. In the statement, she outlined immediate plans to support international students, including prioritizing international students of all class years for on-campus housing for fall 2020 and encouraging the Massachusetts attorney general’s office to take legal action opposing the guidance. 

Additionally, Stephens said, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives would be monitoring all international students’ visa status. 

The College’s educational model for fall 2020 is designated as a hybrid curriculum, meaning that there will be sufficient in-person components for international students to meet ICE’s requirements. However, as it currently stands, the ICE guidance makes no allowance for instructional changes that might be implemented, such as during a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 on campus or in the surrounding community.