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Government rescinds policy barring international students taking online courses in the U.S.

July 15, 2020

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it is rescinding its July 6 directive which would have barred international students taking entirely online classes from remaining in the United States, a measure embroiled in controversy since its announcement a week ago.

The edict drew swift condemnation and vehement opposition from the higher education community, with opponents saying that it is unnecessarily cruel and capricious in potentially displacing thousands of international students from their residence in the United States and forcing them to seek out international travel options during a global pandemic.

On Wednesday, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a lawsuit against the government seeking to stop the directive. During the court hearing on Tuesday, Judge Allison Burroughs of the United States District Court in Boston announced that the government has reached a resolution with the plaintiff universities in the case and that it is now standing by its March directive, which allows international students the flexibility to take online classes.

President Clayton Rose characterized the July 6 directive as arbitrary and senseless during the Town Hall for international students on Thursday, assailing the Trump administration’s decision as politically motivated and devoid of considerations for public health.

“What [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has proposed here… is motivated by politics; it’s motivated by the politics of reopening this country in the face of contrary public health guidance, and it’s motivated by the administration’s views about immigration and immigrants into this country,” said Rose during the meeting. “A view that stands in deep contrast to the values and culture of Bowdoin College.”

The College has since signed onto amicus briefs in support of other universities’ lawsuits, which was made moot upon the government’s decision to rescind the policy. The court has also retained jurisdiction on the case, which means that immediate legal remedy is possible should the government issue further actionable decisions on this subject.

In an email to the campus community hours after the stunning victory, Rose said that he “could not be more pleased” with the outcome and applauded the College community’s strong support for international students during the difficult week.

“I am tremendously grateful to our faculty who were unequivocal in their support for our students and in their willingness to help us as we worked on alternative plans to serve the needs of our international students. I am also very grateful to our staff, students, and alumni who have supported our international students at this very difficult time,” wrote Rose. “This care and support for one another is at the core of what makes Bowdoin special.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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