July 2020 – International Students Update
Dear Albright community,
As many of you are already aware, last week there was a federal decision to temporarily suspend international student visas for students attending colleges and universities that are only offering online classes. This guidance has created much confusion. In the spring, the DHS did the opposite and allowed students to remain in the US when campuses were shut down. More than 90 percent of international students chose to remain stateside when their campuses closed. Should the pandemic worsen this fall, this new rule does not appear to allow any such flexibility for those students. And if their school shifts online mid-semester (whether voluntarily or under government order), international students in the United States will have to leave the country or transfer to a school with some in-person learning.
I state unequivocally that this decision is inconsistent with Albright College’s values of inclusivity and equity.
While Albright College has worked to develop a path forward during this pandemic that prioritizes the health of our community, maintains flexibility, and delivers an exceptional, engaging and valuable education to our students whether the pandemic provides the opportunity for face-to-face education or not, we recognize that this federal decision adds additional stress to an already challenging situation for many of our international community members.
Today, our international students received information from the Dean of Students with additional guidance on the implications of this decision and to let them know that we are here for them now and always. Albright faculty have received guidance on how to advise international students on classes, so they can remain in the states. Several faculty members and staff have attended webinars to become familiar with the details of this federal decision.
On behalf of Albright College, and with the support of the Faculty Executive Committee, I have endorsed a letter being sent to Congress by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). This letter asks Congress to swiftly pass legislation that grants needed flexibility for our international students and institutions during a global pandemic. This flexibility should ensure that any international student with a valid visa will be able to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving their education online, in-person, or through a combination of both, whether inside or outside the United States, during this unprecedented global health emergency.
In addition, we are supporting amicus briefs written by our state association, AICUP, to support the several lawsuits that have already been filed against this guidance.
Our international students, led by the engaged International Student Association, enrich our community and add to its social vibrancy by bringing and sharing diverse cultural experiences. We truly value our international student population and the many positive contributions they make to our campus community.
I ask all of you to join me in lifting up, supporting and reaching out to our international students as we navigate this challenge together.
With Lion pride,
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry