Saint Michael’s responds to new order affecting international students

President Sterritt outlines on-campus initiatives and advocacy to support those potentially impacted by Homeland Security ruling

July 9, 2020
Staff report

ShieldSaint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt responded to questions today regarding a new directive from Homeland Security that would require international students to take classes in person this fall despite limits on classroom capacities that are pushing more courses online at colleges and universities around the country. Sterritt communicated her empathy for the uncertainty the directive presents for new and returning international students and how it adds to the challenges they face from COVID-19 and other travel restrictions.

Sterritt outlined the College’s response to the order: She said, “the Saint Michael’s Office of International Students and Scholars is working quickly to re-issue the I-20s for our international students to classify the format of our teaching as hybrid before the new deadline. We are reaching out to our students to show them our support and offer advising.” Under the new rule, international students must take at least one face-to-face course, so the College must work closely with international students to ensure that their schedules comply. At Saint Michael’s, the goal is to maximize in-person experiences for all students, but limits on classroom capacities mean that some courses will be offered in a hybrid format, she said.

world map artSterritt said the second front in the College’s response to the federal order is advocacy. “Through the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, we shared our deep concerns with Senator Patrick Leahy ‘61, and he plans to advocate on behalf of Vermont students, and international students throughout the United States,” she said. “We are also working through our professional organizations to amplify our voices on these issues. We are engaged members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and the Association of International Educators, and all have expressed strong opposition to this new policy.”

To one student who contacted her with concerns about the order, Sterritt wrote: “Be assured that like you, we value the voices and perspectives of our international students. They enhance our learning and contribute to the global perspective we strive to embrace.”

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