Rowe issues statement condemning new ICE restrictions on international students

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The Reves Center oversees the College of William and Mary's international student population, which faces new challenges for the fall 2020 semester. COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

Wednesday, July 8, College of William and Mary President Katherine Rowe issued a statement strongly condemning new restrictions imposed on international students by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The new restrictions forbid international students studying in the United States with F-1 student visas from remaining or returning to the United States for remote-only instruction. Under the new policy, the student visas of international students who are not enrolled in at least one in-person course for the fall 2020 semester will be revoked, putting hundreds of thousands of international students at risk of deportation.

Rowe made clear in her statement that the new restrictions do not comport with the College’s values.

“International students are vital and honored members of our learning community. You make William and Mary a stronger, more vibrant university. We stand ready to support you in every way we can.”

“These regulations are unfair, unfeasible, and threaten William and Mary’s teaching and research mission as a global university,” Rowe said in a written statement. “They compound the uncertainty and concern brought on by the pandemic and go against every value we hold as an institution.”

According to the most recent statistics posted on the Reves Center’s website, approximately 1,200 international students, scholars, alumni on optional practical training and dependents studied at the College during the 2018-2019 academic year. Of these 1,200 students, approximately 780 (65 percent) studied at the College with an F-1 visa. International students from China constituted a 56 percent majority of the international population during this period. The next highest countries of origin for international students at the College were South Korea (6 percent) and India (3 percent).

Rowe emphasized in her statement that international students form an integral part of the College community and how their presence makes the university a better institution.

“International students are vital and honored members of our learning community,” Rowe said. “You make William and Mary a stronger, more vibrant university. We stand ready to support you in every way we can.”

The College’s Path Forward plan for the fall 2020 semester includes options for both in-person and online courses. Rowe promised in her statement that the university would do everything in its power to ensure that international students would be able to enroll in an in-person course for the fall semester should they decide to continue their studies in the United States.