Dear Campus Community,
Monday’s news about the Department of Homeland Security’s temporary rule for the fall 2020 semester, summarized here, was both unexpected and hurtful. I can only imagine how our international students must feel, as well as members of our faculty and staff who are here on other types of visas.
First, I want to voice my strong disagreement with this temporary rule. Our international students are an integral and valued part of our campus community: we at Salem State support you. I have already been in contact with other Massachusetts college presidents to strategize on how we can work together with our legislators, and I will be reaching out directly to our federal leaders as well. Salem State is also working with Attorney General Maura Healey, who will be taking legal action against this most recent disruption to higher education.
Second, I want to assure you that our team at the Center for International Education (CIE), led by Assistant Provost Julie Whitlow, is in touch with our students here on F1 (and J1) visas as well as their families. CIE is working with individual students, their academic departments and their advisors to make sure these students will be able to maintain their status at Salem State. Likely, this will include ensuring that students are enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid course for this fall semester. Please send questions or concerns directly to Assistant Provost Julie Whitlow. You may also want to visit the NAFSA (Association of International Educators) website, which has provided guidance for those who wish to share their perspectives.
Part of what makes our campus great is that we are diverse in so many ways. This includes welcoming international students who join us from some 49 countries. These students not only come to Salem State to learn, but like every student on this campus, they bring unique experiences that allow us, in turn, to learn from them.
Over the past several months Salem State has shown how well we can support one another when needed. This is another one of those times, and I want you to know we are doing all that we can to support these members of our community.
John D. Keenan