President Houtman, Board of Trustees Chair denounce decision by U.S. immigration officials
July 09, 2020
Editor's note: The following is a statement by Earlham President Anne Houtman and Board Chair Ray Ontko regarding the July 6, 2020 decision by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to restrict access to online coursework for international students already legally in the United States.
Earlham’s international students — from over 60 countries — are important and valued members of our community. They contribute an enormous amount — intellectually, culturally and financially — to Earlham, to Richmond and Wayne County, to Indiana and to our country. Our classrooms, labs, studios, athletics fields and residence life are more vibrant and engaging because of them. Many of our international students remain in the United States and become scientists, teachers and health professionals, and regardless of their career are contributory citizens in the United States or in their home country. We know this because our international alumni remain a part of Earlham forever, staying connected and committed to our community.
The recent decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), via the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), means nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The decision has created more stress for international students at an already stressful time. This is exactly the wrong thing to do at a time that colleges and universities are struggling to identify the best way to continue educating our students while providing for student and staff safety in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Shifting to online-only instruction may be unavoidable and it is important to preserve this option for institutions without jeopardizing the visa status for international students. Earlham unequivocally opposes this decision, and calls for it to be revoked immediately.
Earlham’s teaching faculty are working with our Center for Global and Career Education and international student advisors to ensure that our international students will be able to stay compliant with their immigration requirements under a variety of scenarios for the academic year. One of the advantages of being a smaller institution is that we have the ability to work with individual students and address their particular circumstances. We are confident that all of our international students who are able to return to campus will be able to remain at Earlham and in the United States, in spite of this ill-advised policy. We are also actively seeking to help international students at other institutions whose education is threatened, as we have the capacity to provide academic support to these students in these trying times.
Earlham remains committed to our Principles and Practices, based on the Quaker values of respect for all persons, peace and justice. These values do not allow us to stand aside as vulnerable groups of people unfairly bear the burden of challenges brought about by this global pandemic. We call on all institutions of higher education to stand united in support of the international students in our care.
Brian Zimmerman, director of media relations