A Message from Dean Gerken on Support for International Students

This week, the Trump Administration issued a policy requiring international students to attend in-person classes in order to maintain their visa status. That policy is senseless and cruel. It forces students, faculty, and institutions to make a terrible choice, and it creates the possibility that students might have to leave the country at the height of a pandemic simply because public health conditions require a university to go online. The policy is also flatly inconsistent with the core tenets of academic institutions. Knowledge knows no borders, and an intellectual culture depends on inclusion and openness to thrive.

Our international students are a beloved part of our community. While I fervently hope that this policy will be rescinded or overturned, we are planning to do whatever we can to protect our students should the policy stand.

Because we will offer a hybrid educational model in the fall, the University has advised our international students that they can maintain their visa status for now. The University will continue to update us on its efforts to protect international students.

If there is a COVID-19 spike at some point during the semester and public health conditions require us to teach classes online, we have an additional plan in place at the Law School. Deputy Dean Ian Ayres and I were able to speak personally with all but a handful of our faculty members during the last two days. Every single one of them volunteered to offer an in-person, one-on-one tutorial to our international students so that they can continue with in-person learning and avoid deportation. One of my colleagues told me that he would teach outside in the snow if he needed to.

I want to share with our international students the outpouring of love and affection that I heard from the faculty with whom I spoke. Know that we are in your corner, and that you are in our hearts.

Heather K. Gerken

Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law