Chancellor Douglas Girod joined university leaders across the country Wednesday morning in condemning a new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy that requires international students to enroll in at least one credit hour of in-person classes to remain in the United States.
The guidelines mandate international students attend in-person classes in order to keep their student visas. If a student’s university has chosen to go completely online for the fall semester, that student is required to transfer schools to stay in the U.S. At the University of Kansas, administrators plan to offer in-person, online and hybrid classes for the fall semester.
Girod said in a statement KU would “stand firm against federal pressure” that would compromise the University’s plan to maintain health and safety as the priority into the fall semester.
“This new policy is also likely to further damage our nation’s universities, which are already struggling with unprecedented uncertainty and financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Girod said. “To put it plainly, blocking and possibly expelling international students in the middle of their studies is inhumane, serves no one’s interests, and would set back the United States’ ability to attract the brightest minds to study here.”
KU is coordinating with the Association of American Universities, of which KU is a member, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to encourage lawmakers to reconsider the “truly mean-spirited and unworkable policy,” Girod said.
Other institutions across the U.S. have criticized the new federal guidelines in recent days. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University filed a lawsuit in a District Court in Boston Wednesday morning against the Department of Homeland Security and ICE.
The AAU, which represents 63 universities in the U.S. and two Canadian universities, released a statement Tuesday that called the guidelines “immensely misguided.” Its president, Mary Sue Coleman, said in the statement the policy would “[force] sudden, difficult decisions on international students and universities trying to look out for the safety of their students, faculty and staff.”
Other leaders at KU condemned the policy Tuesday evening.
Hollie Hall, president of KU International Grads and a Ph.D. student from London, said the policy could displace many international students and affect the lives they’ve established at their schools.
“We chose to get a degree from this institution for a reason. We don’t want to transfer or move our whole lives,” Hall said. “I shouldn’t be kicked out of the country through no fault of my own.”
Student Body President Apramay Mishra told the Kansan Tuesday he was confident Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer would accommodate international students under the new federal guidelines.
“A lot of domestic students don’t realize how much international students sacrifice to come to the U.S. to study,” Mishra said. “The fact that the national government is saying that they don’t want them here, after a lot of students have come here and their lives are here basically … is pretty disappointing.”