July 10 Message to Campus: Our Commitment to International Students

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

The federal announcement Monday that international students taking only online courses could imperil their visa status injected enormous anxiety into an already-difficult situation.

Next week, a U.S. District Court judge will have the opportunity to ease their fears.

And, I am pleased to say, Case Western Reserve will be among those urging her to take it.

Earlier this week, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed suit in federal court to block the government’s proposed changes—at least temporarily. We have joined several of our peer institutions in an amicus brief supporting Harvard and MIT in those efforts.

This morning in Boston, U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled a hearing on the case for Tuesday, July 14. Since the federal announcement set a July 15 deadline for schools offering only online classes this fall to submit new course plans, Harvard and MIT have asked for a ruling by July 15 as well.

While Case Western Reserve is offering a mix of online and in-person courses this fall, the government’s proposed changes would also require that universities certify by Aug. 4 that each international student in the U.S. is taking the fewest online courses possible to advance toward a degree.

This position represents a complete turnaround from the administration’s stance in March, when the government specifically exempted international students from requirements that they take at least some classes in person.

At the time, the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency wrote that the exemption would continue “for the duration of the emergency.”

The total new U.S. COVID-19 cases on that day? 596.

The number on Monday, when the government made its announcement? 47,300.

And yesterday? 59,886.

By any rational interpretation, the "emergency" not only continues, but is even more urgent today.

This week our International Student Services staff have communicated with students and answered questions, while our attorneys engaged immigration experts to understand how best to advise them amid so much uncertainty. As new events unfold, we will update you as quickly as possible.

Twelve years ago, we made internationalization of our campus one of the most prominent goals of our university’s strategic plan. At that time, undergraduate international enrollment stood at 4 percent (135 students). A decade later, the figure was 13 percent (719 students). Including graduate and professional school students, our total international enrollment climbed by 50 percent during the decade.

Our international students have enriched the campus in nearly innumerable ways. The outpouring of campus support after President Trump’s Jan. 27, 2017, executive order is just one of many examples of how much we value and appreciate your choice to become part of our community.

For us, #YouAreWelcomeHereCWRU is more than a hashtag—it is a commitment.

We will do all that we can to honor it.

Barbara R. Snyder