We are deeply saddened and concerned at the guidance issued this week by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which states that international students attending colleges and universities in the United States that operate entirely online will not be allowed to remain in residence in the country. This is a reversal of policy issued last spring allowing these students to continue their education in the country when colleges were forced to take instruction online. Under the new guidance, these students will not be issued visas for the fall, nor will they be allowed to enter the United States.
While we currently plan to reopen for in-person classes in the fall, conditions related to the pandemic could require us to move to online instruction. This is a fact of life that every institution of higher education is facing as we move forward in the midst of a worsening pandemic. Thus, the new ICE guidelines threaten the very idea of welcoming international students to Randolph this year.
At Randolph, our international community of students brings a breadth of culture, diversity, and perspective to our campus. These students are a vital part of our student body and contribute greatly to the educational experience we offer all of our students. These students add to our classroom discussions, our residence life, and most importantly, our understanding of the world around us.
To release guidance such as this during a worldwide pandemic, when our own country is facing a serious public health crisis that is worsening, is unfathomable. It ignores the welfare of our international students and will negatively impact nearly every college and university in the nation. The new guidance will have long range implications far into the future.
I want the international students who call Randolph home to know that you have our full support. I know this is a stressful and challenging time, and we will do everything we can to help and guide you as we all navigate these new waters. We value you and the contribution you bring to our community, and it is our hope that this new guidance—which is not yet final—will be changed to better reflect the current needs of our nation.
Until this time, we join with other colleges and universities across the nation in condemning this policy change and asking our governmental leaders to put politics aside and do the right thing—not just for these international students who come to our country to better themselves and their families—but for our own nation, which benefits greatly from these students and their contributions to our society.