MILWAUKEE _ University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee chancellor Mark A. Mone sent the following message to faculty, staff and students today. It is being shared with media as many reporters have asked about UWM’s position on the issue.
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
I am writing to express my support for our international students and share my dismay regarding Monday’s announcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Department of Homeland Security Student and Exchange Visitor Program. As many of you already know, ICE issued a temporary rule that international students must leave the United States or face immigration consequences if their university shifts to fully online classes in Fall 2020. We have about 1,200 international students; many are graduate students enrolled in high-demand STEM fields where they make significant contributions to research that improves lives in Wisconsin and beyond. Our international students also contribute to the diversity and vibrancy of our campus culture, helping make UWM a truly world-class university. We will continue to support and advocate for these valuable members of our community.
With that in mind, I and other campus leaders have been reaching out to our congressional delegation and other federal officials to express our concerns. ICE’s final temporary rule has not yet been published. We hope that our efforts will be fruitful, and the final temporary rule will include modifications that permit international students to be fully engaged in their studies and academic communities regardless of the mode of instruction. This is critical given the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic. We plan to offer a hybrid model of instruction this fall that would allow international students to enroll in some face-to-face classes, meet the requirements of the proposed rule and remain in the United States to make progress towards their degrees. However, we may need to adapt, as we did in the spring semester, to changing public health conditions. The proposed ICE rule takes away our flexibility. If this rule remains, it would cause hardship and havoc for many of our international students. We saw last spring that many of these students were not able to quickly return home for a variety of reasons, and we know that some who leave will not be able to return. This order will halt their studies, harming them and, ultimately, the world that would benefit from their knowledge and contributions. It also would set back UWM’s and the United States’ ability to attract the world’s brightest minds to study here.
In planning for the fall semester, we have kept health and safety at the forefront of our minds. While we are planning for in-person instruction, we are prepared to move to online instruction if public health guidance warrants it. This DHS rule makes our decisions harder by putting health and safety in competition with our students’ educational progress, and it places the university in an untenable position. It is my fervent hope that we and the other universities lobbying on this issue will be able to effect a change.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee