UPDATE: On Tuesday, July 14, the federal government rescinded a policy change that would have required international students to return to their home countries if there was a full shift to online learning this fall.
Elon University’s Global Education Dean Woody Pelton is applauding the decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reverse a recent policy change that would have required international students to transfer or return to their home countries if their college moved learning fully online next academic year.
Elon has every intention to have in-person, classroom instruction this fall, meaning international students at Elon would not have been impacted by the change announced by ICE on July 6. However, the university joined colleges and universities across the nation in filing an amicus curiae brief to obtain a restraining order to block the ICE directive. On behalf of Elon, President Connie Ledoux Book and other university leaders in the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration joined a lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General and the University of California System.
On July 14, ICE announced the reversal of the policy as part of the settlement of a separate lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over the new directive.
“International students are vital and valuable members of the Elon University community, and we welcome today’s news that they will not face additional challenges if there is a shift in how courses are delivered at Elon after the start of fall semester,” said Woody Pelton, dean of global education. “Today’s action ensures international students will have the flexibility and support they need during these challenging times.”
The Isabella Cannon Global Education Center at Elon reached out to the university’s international students immediately following the decision to inform them of the change.
An earlier communication sent to the campus community following the July 6 decision by ICE is below:
Members of the Elon community,
This week’s announcement by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that international students will not be allowed to stay in the country if they attend institutions that are holding only online courses this fall is an unnecessary and troubling action at a stressful time.
We are working with students from other nations to make arrangements for them to attend Elon on campus this fall – a complicated issue as they plan international travel in the midst of a global pandemic. This week’s announcement is not helpful and we have already reached out to our students with this message: Elon’s intention is to have in-person, classroom instruction this fall and international students here will not be impacted by these guidelines.
At the same time, it is understandable that they are concerned about this policy, since there is some uncertainty about the future threat of the virus. We understand that a surge in COVID-19 cases could necessitate an adjustment in the way classes are conducted, including the potential of adopting more hybrid or remote-learning courses.
If Elon were to move away from in-person instruction for some period of time, we will use all available measures to enable international students to remain on campus, just as they did last spring when Elon moved to remote instruction. International students bring richness of thought, diverse experiences and perspectives to Elon community that ALL of us benefit from.
Elon University has joined colleges and universities from across the nation in filing an amicus curiae brief to obtain a restraining order to block the ICE directive. On behalf of Elon, President Connie Ledoux Book and other university leaders in the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration have joined a lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General and the University of California System.
Elon has also signed a letter to Congress coordinated by the Association of American Universities condemning the ICE directive and asking the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw it. If the directive is not withdrawn, the letter also asks Congress to swiftly pass legislation that grants needed flexibility for international students and institutions during the global pandemic.
We will continue to work with other organizations and academic institutions and continue to advocate for a change in this policy and guidelines.
Please be assured that Elon’s Global Education Center faculty and staff are working directly with international students to support them, answer their questions and ensure they have an exceptional experiential and residential educational experience on the Elon campus this fall.
Dean of Global Education