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Our Pledge to You: A Message for Garrett's International Students

July 13, 2020
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Dear Garrett community:

On July 6, the Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement unexpectedly announced intentions to modify its Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If taken into effect, the ruling would reverse the temporary exemptions provided in SEVP’s Spring Semester 2020 guidance for nonimmigrant F-1/M-1 visa students to take online classes in Fall 2020. The students would potentially face deportation should their schools only offer online courses in the fall semester.

While shrouded in the language of safety and protection, the decision would force schools into false and dangerous choices regarding unsafe re-openings for in-person teaching and learning. Educators everywhere have noted with great consternation that the integrity of educational and pedagogic design is being compromised by seemingly arbitrary immigration policy. Amid the enduring pandemics of COVID-19, xenophobia, and racism, international students once again are gripped by a threat to their livelihood and flourishing as members of and contributors to our ever-expanding transnational society. This decision and direction is not merely misguided or inconvenient, it is dangerous in its consequences to the most vulnerable segments of the international student population. As such, it is detrimental to us all.

We recognize that for the international student members of our seminary, this news is a devastating strike to morale, a triggering of deep anxiety. Garrett-Evangelical pledges to you our unequivocal commitment and support. You will have the classes that you need in the fall, but more than that, we will remain a robust learning community driven by the principles of quality, liberative, and equitable education. We will hold fast to the values that have guided our decision-making during our COVID contingency planning: 1) caring for the whole person and community; 2) providing trauma-informed teaching and care in light of our current disaster social reality; and 3) stewarding our resources to support the most vulnerable and to remain “Garrett strong.”

As stated before in a communication sent to our international students on July 9: “Garrett-Evangelical will do absolutely everything to continue making our campus a safe place for you to continue your education, and our support of your well-being is resolute.” Please stay tuned for updates from the Offices of Student Life and Academic Affairs in the days ahead.

In persistence and resilience,

Rev. Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean

Rev. Benjamin Reynolds
Assistant Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students

 

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