On the DHS Rule Related to International Students and Online Instruction

July 9, 2020

As a consortium of thirteen residential liberal arts colleges in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Great Lakes Colleges Association expresses deep dismay regarding the recent Department of Homeland Security rule that would prohibit non-immigrant international students from remaining in the U.S. if they take a full course of study through online classes. This means such students may not be in the U.S. or must leave the country if a college in which they are enrolled operates fully online this fall, needs to pivot to fully online during the year, or if a student needs to take all courses online for health reasons.

The presence of international students is an integral part of our campus and local communities. These students contribute to the diverse and vibrant learning and living environments of our small, residential campuses. Through their enrollment and their engagement in the communities, they contribute to our local economies.

In the spring, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provided temporary exemptions for non-immigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic. This recent rule either assumes the pandemic is over or cannot resurface in greater numbers (as we are currently seeing in many areas of the country), even though no vaccine exists or will likely exist until 2021; or it threatens international enrollment in our colleges and universities in an arbitrary, capricious and inhumane way.

We urge individuals, institutions, and other higher education organizations to demand a change in this new SEVP modification. Whether through legal or legislative action, we advocate that this rule be blocked and that the existing temporary exemptions be extended at least until we reach the end of this pandemic.

Michael A. McDonald, President, Great Lakes Colleges Association

On behalf of GLCA Member Colleges and their Presidents:

Mathew Johnson
Albion College
Lori White
DePauw University
Carmen Twillie Ambar
Oberlin College
Hilary Link
Allegheny College
Anne Houtman
Earlham College
Rock Jones
Ohio Wesleyan University
Thomas Manley
Antioch College
Matthew Scogin
Hope College
Scott Feller
Wabash College
Adam Weinberg
Denison University
Jorge Gonzalez
Kalamazoo College

Sarah Bolton
The College of Wooster

  Sean Decatur
Kenyon College