Response to Student and Exchange Visitor Program Announcement

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Over the years Puget Sound has held firm in our belief that our educational mission is enhanced and enriched by students who come to us from across the Pacific Northwest and the United States, as well as around the world, regardless of citizenship.

This week we have taken steps to further that commitment by responding to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announcement that “the U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

Following SEVP’s announcement, we have been in contact with our international students to affirm our support of them during this difficult moment. Especially in light of heightened concerns due to the global health crisis, we find it patently unfair and potentially dangerous to penalize international students by potentially risking their health as well as their continuing studies. We are not alone. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to block the rule from taking effect. In hopes of repealing this action by the SEVP and in support of this lawsuit, Puget Sound has committed to sign on to amicus briefs through Independent Colleges of Washington, American Council on Education, and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

Puget Sound continues to closely monitor the global health crisis and plans to resume in-person learning on August 31, taking all necessary precautions to protect the health and wellbeing of all who learn, live and work on our campus. While we can’t know what path the pandemic will take, we will offer a number of courses online-only to accommodate those who have higher risk factors associated with contracting and recovering from COVID-19, regardless of their citizenship or citizenship status. If needed, we also will be prepared to shift to remote/online learning before or after the start of the fall semester or to further adapt our campus environment.

These are challenging times. The pandemic may be new, but many of the challenges that we are facing as a nation are long-standing and have deep roots in our policies, practices and beliefs across the country. I am proud of the way that our university community continues to come together to live our values, support one another, and advocate for all who seek to further their educations toward the creation of a more fair, just, and equitable world.

Sincerely,

Isiaah
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. | President