Regarding the ICE guidance of July 6, 2020
July 8, 2020
Dear Mount Holyoke Community,
On July 6, 2020, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance indicating its intention to impose a regulation in the coming weeks. This regulation enables ICE to expel international students who are enrolled only in courses that are delivered online in Fall 2020. This order was issued without warning and without consideration for the extensive and thoughtful health and safety planning and preparation underway at colleges and universities across the country.
My objection to this guidance is ideological and profound. 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. This action is of grave concern to us, putting at risk the wellbeing, education, aspirations and freedom of our international students, and the millions of other students and graduates pursuing education and work in the U.S. It is particularly challenging and especially aggrieving in the current context of anti-immigrant rhetoric, stigmatization of Asian individuals in response to COVID-19 and the ongoing brutality and racism experienced by so many.
This move to limit educational opportunities for international students does irreparable harm to the intellectual communities of which these students are fully a part, and to the intellectual projects to which they are key contributors; it undermines generations of global understanding and collaboration; and it casts a long shadow over the nation's reputation as a place of welcome and opportunity for the best minds in the world. Please know that Mount Holyoke welcomes and values you, and so I write to let the community know of Mount Holyoke’s immediate actions in support of international students:
- The College’s educational model for this fall, announced previously, is designated as a “hybrid” curriculum and there are sufficient specific in-person components for international students to meet ICE’s requirement for staying in the U.S.
- The College will prioritize international students of all class years for on-campus housing. This has already been communicated to our international students, and I want to assure the entire community that this prioritization is in place.
- I am reaching out to the Massachusetts Attorney General, encouraging her office to take legal action against this guidance. We support the lawsuits that have been filed by Harvard and MIT, and we will be signatories on any amicus briefs that align with our position.
- The College is a longstanding member of the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and we will work with them to push back against this short-sighted ruling. Additionally, Mount Holyoke is a member of the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and we will also collaborate with them, and any other representative bodies, to advocate for and protect our international student community.
As the situation develops, we will continue to communicate our deep opposition to these discriminatory federal policies. The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives will monitor all international students’ visa status and the College is providing additional administrative support to them in this time of crisis. We have published what we have sent to our international students at this time.
As horrified as I am by this guidance, I am very grateful for the extraordinary work the McCulloch Center has done to support our international students in this time. I thank Kavita Khory ’84, Bri Rhodes and Jennifer Medina for their outstanding and tireless efforts on behalf of our students. Students with questions should contact the team at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The pandemic has brought a great deal of stress and worry into people’s lives, and this guidance has added to that burden. I want to remind students that, while Counseling Service is closed, the 24/7 Care line will be available all summer to students with urgent mental health needs. Call 413-538-2037 and follow the prompts to be connected with a clinician (there may be a brief delay while your call is being routed).
Additionally, we will offer information sessions for our international students with legal counsel to ensure you are well-informed about current and evolving policies. The McCulloch Center will send out more information as these sessions are finalized.
These are trying times for our entire community--students, faculty and staff. I urge everyone to call their representatives, to sign petitions and to advocate for our international students.