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International Student Response Task Force Update

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International Student Response Task Force Update

July 10, 2020

Dear OU Community,

I write to share the make-up of the International Student Response Task Force, its primary charges, and an important development in OU’s advocacy effort opposing the recent directive from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

This high-level Task Force is comprised of university-wide participants from multiple colleges on the Norman campus; the Division of Student Affairs; International Student Services; the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Office of the Provost; and Government Affairs. It will engage actively with a Student Advisory Group to the Task Force, with participation across our three campuses. Interim Provost Irvine has charged the Task Force:

  • To coordinate advocacy for international students with state and federal partners, specifically to urge the reconsideration of the proposed visa changes;
  • To coordinate academic responses that will effectively ensure that international students stay in compliance with visa regulations, should the changes be adopted, and under different scenarios regarding the course of the pandemic and the university response to it; 
  • To monitor and recommend effective university responses to issues that may affect international students in particular ways during the pandemic, including food and housing insecurity, bursar bills, employment and mental health, among others;
  • To engage in regular dialogue with international students and other members of the OU community to understand and respond to their concerns, and to provide up-to-date information to our community; and
  • To take immediate actions where possible and to make timely recommendations to the OU leadership on all of the above.

With respect to the first item noted above, I am pleased to announce that OU, in partnership with the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, today joined 180 colleges and universities in an amicus brief filed in support of Harvard University’s and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s legal complaint against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The plaintiffs seek an injunction against new guidance from ICE that effectively implements a ban on international students enrolled exclusively in online courses as a result of COVID-19. This act serves as a first step in the important work that lies ahead for us as we continue to advocate for our international students.

Once again, thank you to all those who have expressed tremendous support for our international student community. We will keep you regularly informed regarding further developments in this advocacy effort, and other practical measures that are already being taken across our university.

Scott Fritzen
Dean, David L. Boren College of International Studies
International Student Response Task Force Chair