To the Laurentian Community,
On Monday, July 6, St. Lawrence learned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidelines for Fall 2020 regarding international students in the F-1 category. According to the guidance, international students that participate in an in-person or hybrid model of instruction are required to return to the U.S. in order to maintain their F-1 status. For schools that are operating entirely online, international students are required to conduct their courses from abroad or lose their visa status.
The contents of this guidance greatly disturb us as they present yet another roadblock in our international students’ journey to complete their education. We share our students’ concern and anxiety, and will protect and fight for the rights of belonging to this community regardless of one’s place of birth.
Our international students are an integral part of St. Lawrence. These outstanding Laurentians, who account for nearly 10 percent of our students, are valued members of our community who significantly enrich our campus, our lives, and the lives of those in the North Country.
St. Lawrence will be offering a combination of course types this fall, including hybrid and fully online models. To ensure that our international students are able to continue their studies at St. Lawrence, those approved for the fall semester return will be guaranteed the opportunity to take at least one hybrid course. In the next couple of weeks, the registrar’s office will be updating the fall course listings and indicating which fall courses will be offered online only. International students who are attending in the fall and find they are registered for only online courses can work on re-registration with Academic Advising and International Student Services to ensure they are registered for at least one hybrid course.
Those who are not able to return to campus for the fall semester due to travel restrictions or visa issues have the option to return for the spring and summer semesters. We are looking into the option of international students taking all courses online from outside the United States, and will communicate more details as soon as we can confirm that possibility.
We want to reassure our students that the University is aware of these new requirements, and no matter how circumstances may change in the fall, we will work with our international students to ensure academic progress toward their graduation and that we will work to safeguard their home in the St. Lawrence community.
St. Lawrence’s International Student Services (ISS) team has reached out to our international students to make them aware of the ICE update, and has been addressing their inquiries and concerns individually. As soon as we have a better understanding of the logistics of this guidance, we will hold town hall meetings for them.
If any student feels the need to talk with a counselor, our 24-hour counseling line is available to any student, anywhere in the world, and can be accessed by calling +1-315-229-1914.
We will continue to advocate for our international students through collaborating with our partners at other institutions, as well as contacting our congressional representatives to take action on this matter. We are committed to standing up for and working with our international students to ensure that their education is not interrupted, and that they have the opportunity to thrive at St. Lawrence and in this country.
Bill Fox Kimberly Flint-Hamilton
President Associate Dean, Diversity & Inclusion