Protect ALL international students at Syracuse University

Syracuse University's administration

*Update July 14th* We welcome the news that DHS and ICE have rescinded their discriminatory policy! Many of the demands expressed here are solved due to this announcement. However, the petition is also a call for action to protect international students at SU who are currently outside of the US (see demands 6, 7, 8). Please continue to share and support those demands.

As international students, we have seen with horror as the Trump administration attempts to send us out of the country if our universities do not comply with re-opening. We are not only concerned about the consequences in-person classes will have on our health, but we are also afraid of the possibility of being deported and losing our visa status.

We encourage all international students and supporters at SU to sign the attached petition.

Petition by
nicole moeller
syracuse, New York

To: Syracuse University's administration
From: [Your Name]

Dear
John Liu
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost

Amanda Nicholson
Interim Deputy Senior Vice President, Division of Enrollment and the Student
Experience

Kent Syverud
Chancellor

As international students, we have seen with horror as the Trump administration attempts to send us out of the country if our universities do not comply with re-opening. We are not only concerned about the consequences in-person classes will have on our health, but we are also afraid of the possibility of being deported and losing our visa status. Many of us live in different time zones, which makes taking online classes practically impossible. Many do not have access to reliable internet in their home countries; others do not have a place to stay for longer periods of time; some countries have closed their borders making it impossible to even return; many do not have the financial means to pay for the costs they may face in relocating, such as a new visa application or other related expenses the policy would impose; and not to mention the emotional and relational devastation for those who have built an entire life in this country. The problems with such a cruel decision are countless.

We are frustrated and disappointed by the lack of protection Syracuse University’s administration has, so far, proposed. What will happen to immunocompromised international students? Will they have to put their health at risk just so they are allowed to stay in the U.S.? In terms of classes, will we have to choose in-person meetings instead of classes that are actually relevant to our academic formation and might be offered online? Considering the increased spread of Covid 19, what will happen if the State decides to close universities? If we had to leave, who will pay for a new visa application, for our move, for our signed leases? What are the steps SU will take to ensure undergraduate and graduate students finish our programs? Why can the administration not ensure that international students that are currently unable to re-enter the US receive their wages and stipends, even if they work online?

We are still in the middle of a pandemic and would like to see a stronger response from our administration. We see the coercion of international students to attend in-person classes, or withholding the right for students to choose (between on-line and in-person) as a discriminatory act. Other universities such as Harvard and MIT have put the interests of their students first and we expect no less from Syracuse University. We will not accept a passive compliance with the Trump administration’s extortion attempts.

For these reasons, as we wait for the publication of a Temporary Final Rule, international students seek the protection of ALL international students at SU and outside of the US:

[1- Create a process whereby international students can appeal to attend only online classes. We are still in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic. SU has to prioritize our education, wellbeing and health. Allowing international students to choose classes according to their individual needs is essential.

2- Although the amicus brief submitted by SU was the first step towards recognizing the threat on international students, we ask the university to join the lawsuit initiated by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a plaintiff. Or initiate an own lawsuit against the restrictions as other universities and states have done (University of California, John Hopkins University, New York State, etc.).

3- Create a free one-credit in-person course for all international students to register with excused absences.

4- In 2017 Syracuse was declared a Sanctuary City, establishing its commitment to the protection of non-citizens from the emboldened and violent aggression of ICE — a commitment we expect from Syracuse University. At the height of the current administration’s attempt to end DACA and ban the entry of specific nationalities, there was a bill and a petition introduced by the student body to make Syracuse University a Sanctuary Campus. Once again, we are renewing the call to make SU a Sanctuary Campus. Do not collaborate with ICE.

5- Maintain the same Student and Exchange Visitor Information System’s status for all international students during Fall 2020 and as long as the pandemic lasts.]

6- Allow international students to continue receiving funds for their work. SU’s latest e-mail stated that international students outside of the US will not receive stipends or wages for their work. This is not acceptable and for many it would mean giving up their programs entirely. We ask the university to seek other ways to deliver the expected funds, for example, “cash grants”, fellowship funding and more as had been suggested in a private exchange with the Dean of the graduate school, Peter Vanable.

7- Protect graduate international students’ contracts as TAs or RAs even if they arrive late to the semester because they have not been allowed to leave their country.

8- Provide legal help to those international students that, among other things, have signed new leases and have not been able to return.

These demands are the only acceptable actions for an administration that cares about their students’ wellbeing and health. International students not only make monetary and multicultural contributions to SU, but we also provide intellectual labor and output. Even more, many of us consider Syracuse and SU our home. We need a strong commitment that will relieve us from the strong emotional stress this uncertainty has created.
We acknowledge that in unprecedented situations the university may take more time to make decisions, however, due to added pressure on international students and the applicability of the above demands, we expect a prompt response.

Sincerely,

International Students of Syracuse University and supporters