Bennington College Statement in Support of International Students
The following statement was sent to students, faculty, and staff from Interim President Isabel Roche and President-elect Laura Walker.
Earlier this week, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released guidance on a new rule that prohibits international students at US colleges and universities from returning to or remaining in the country if they are enrolled exclusively in online courses.
We believe that this policy is cruel and counterproductive. It undermines this country’s longstanding commitment to a dynamic, diverse, and competitive higher education sector on the global stage. It serves neither students nor colleges nor public health needs but rather seeks to advance a political agenda that is hostile to international learners--a group of people who make profound contributions to the intellectual, artistic, and cultural fabric of the United States.
We are working closely with Bennington’s incoming and returning international students to find solutions within our blended in-person/remote model for Fall 2020 that can accommodate both the new federal rules and the logistical and health needs of our students. Kate Child, assistant dean for academic services, will remain in close contact with all international students as additional guidance is released. She will continue to advocate directly to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, ICE, and the Department of Homeland Security for the maximum record-keeping flexibility for the Fall 2020 terms. As we have stated in the past, Bennington will support members of our community to the fullest extent possible while complying with the law. Specifically, Bennington College will not assist ICE in the investigation of the immigration status of our students, staff, or faculty without being directed to do so by a court or similar authority.
We commend Harvard and MIT for taking immediate legal action to try to reverse this destructive policy; and we are working closely with our elected officials in Vermont to ensure that they are advocating for student interests at the federal level. Bennington is also a member of the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and will continue to advocate for international students with this group.
Today and every day, we will do everything we can to protect Bennington’s international students from indefensible federal policies that threaten their education and their security in our academic community.