President Barron: Penn State Will Do ‘All It Can’ To Support International Students

Penn State President Eric Barron issued a statement Wednesday night criticizing new federal government guidelines that put international students at risk.

Under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s updated policies, international students who can’t enroll in at least one in-person class this fall must transfer to another university to take a traditional, in-person class or risk deportation.

Barron fears these plans could have disastrous effects on Penn State’s international student population, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“These very harmful rules come amid a pandemic and at a time when global travel is severely restricted,” Barron wrote. “Our nation’s colleges and universities are doing everything they can to keep their students, faculty and staff safe and healthy this fall while continuing their educational missions. Doing so requires the flexibility to deliver some or all of their courses remotely. At Penn State alone, this edict could have a disastrous and unfair impact on thousands of our students.”

Barron continued, stating he and his university colleagues will do everything in their power to keep international students safe, healthy, and a part of the Penn State community.

“We will do all that we can to see that this extremely negative impact is not the case and that this unfortunate directive does not derail the educational ambitions of our international students,” Barron said. “They are a welcome, enriching and vital part of our community, belong on our campuses and have every right to finish their degrees at Penn State.”

To take action against ICE’s guidelines, Penn State will join an amicus brief written in support of Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and ICE regarding the new rules. Amicus briefs allow parties not affiliated with the litigation (read: Penn State) to provide arguments, perspective, and advice to the court on the case or issues at hand.

Additionally, Penn State is joining several groups, such as the Associate of American Universities and American Council on Education, in calling for the “immediate rescission” of the new measures.

“Doing so is in our country’s be interested and simply the right and just thing to do,” Barron wrote.

While legal action waits to take place, Barron said Penn State is “exploring various means” to retain its international students on its campuses should the regulations persist. He added Penn State will share more information on these plans in the coming weeks once potential courses of action become more clear.

“To our international students: You are welcome here. Your presence enriches our University and the educational experience of all of our students,” Barron wrote. “I know you have questions and trepidations, but please know that our academic programs are already working to provide you with options for a successful fall semester, doing all they can to keep you from having to leave your Penn State family. We will be working tirelessly and creatively to lessen the impacts of this directive on you.”

In the meantime, Barron encourages international students to read up on frequently asked questions, speak with their academic advisers, and contact the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising at 814-865-6348 (option two). They can also submit their questions online.

“We cannot assail this unjust edict enough, but if it remains, we will do everything in our power to support our international students as they work to finish their degrees on campus,” Barron wrote.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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