Messages to the Community
To: W&L Students, Faculty and Staff
From: President Will Dudley
Date: July 9, 2020
Re: International Student Guidelines
Earlier this week the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued new guidelines that threaten the visa status of hundreds of thousands of international students studying in the United States. Under these guidelines, international students enrolled in universities offering only online courses would have to transfer to another institution offering hybrid or in-person courses or be subject to deportation.
We have consistently indicated that W&L is planning and preparing for our students to return to campus in August, in which case we will welcome our international students back to Lexington to rejoin their classmates.
The ICE announcement suggests, however, that if we were required to pivot to virtual instruction during the semester due to changing guidance from government or public health officials, then our international students could be required to leave the country.
We should not have to make a choice between ensuring the safety of our community and preserving the ability of our international students to remain in the United States. At a time when our international students are, like all of us, coping with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the policy threatens to disrupt their education.
I am a member of the President's Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of institutions dedicated to advocating for international and undocumented students who wish to study on our campuses. The alliance is helping to identify potential solutions to this latest challenge, and we will work with this coalition to advocate for the reversal of this policy, while also contacting our state and federal legislators and collaborating with fellow members of the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) to voice our opposition.
Mark Rush, director of the Center for International Education, will remain in touch with our international students to offer them our full support. Our international students are integral members of the W&L community, and we value their presence on the campus and in Lexington. We intend to work on their behalf to see that they can safely continue their studies here at Washington and Lee.