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NY college presidents: Trump administration wrong on international student visas | Opinion

Brian W. Casey, David Wippman, Joyce P. Jacobsen, William L. Fox, Marc C. Conner and David R. Harris
Special to the USA TODAY NETWORK

The presidents of the member schools of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium — Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College and Union College — strongly object to recent actions by the federal government which restrict access and opportunities for international students and scholars, thereby limiting the educational experience for all students.

The changes to the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which force institutions to offer in-person instruction or risk deportation of international students with F-1 and M-1 visas, are perplexing. Though our six institutions plan to offer a blend of face-to-face and remote courses in the fall, the unpredictable nature of the pandemic may force a return to fully remote instruction at a future point in order to protect the health and safety of our campuses and local communities. Such a decision would have grave consequences for our international students, whose education would be drastically disrupted through no fault of their own. We fail to see how this action is justifiable. The accommodations accorded to international students for the spring and summer should be continued at least through the fall term.

We also object to President Donald Trump’s executive order to suspend the H-1B visa program, which is critically important to our ability to hire faculty and postdoctoral scholars with unique skill sets that ensure we are preparing the next generation of American workers with the highest quality education possible. The impact of this order reaches well beyond higher education; it will have a severe impact on many U.S. businesses and industries.

American flags fly on the quadrangle at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. The flags are placed each Sept. 11 by the university's college Democrats and Republicans in honor of those killed in the 2001 terror attacks.

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The reason we seek international scholars and skilled workers is because there are not enough qualified Americans to meet demand across the broad scope of higher education and many business sectors in the U.S. We strongly encourage the Trump Administration to rescind this order to ensure that our colleges and universities and businesses and industries are able to attract the best talent from across the world to yield the discoveries and innovations that will fuel U.S. economic recovery and growth.

Schenectady, N.Y., is the home of Union College, ranked 15th in top party schools.

The presence of international students and scholars on our campuses helps to prepare all of our students to be global citizens — to live in increasingly diverse and multicultural communities and to pursue careers in a global marketplace. Federal actions that restrict this important aspect of a college education threaten our nation’s status as a world leader.

The New York Six presidents signing on to this statement are:

  • Brian W. Casey, Colgate University
  • David Wippman, Hamilton College
  • Joyce P. Jacobsen, Hobart and William Smith Colleges 
  • William L. Fox, St. Lawrence University
  • Marc C. Conner, Skidmore College
  • David R. Harris, Union College
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