Supporting our International Students
A message from the Cabinet to the Bentley community
Members of the Bentley Community,
The uncertainty of the pandemic and its impact on Bentley’s plans for the fall has been difficult for every member of this community. We are all quickly adapting to new learning, teaching, living and working arrangements.
This past week, members of our international community were burdened with another level of uncertainty. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued new federal guidance related to F1 visas, preventing international students from returning to the U.S. this fall if academic courses are completely online. This guidance breaks from the spring and summer accommodations for international students, which allowed them to maintain their status, regardless of course format or location.
This new directive is disappointing, narrow-minded and wrong. There are more than 1,200 international students at Bentley who will be impacted by this new guidance from ICE. International students are valued members of our Bentley community who make this a culturally rich institution. They are our friends, classmates and colleagues, and they go on to become proud members of our alumni community. Bentley would not be Bentley without our international students.
Harvard and MIT announced earlier this week that they were suing the federal government in an effort to block this guidance from going into effect. Today, Bentley University signed on to join an amicus brief with the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration challenging these regulations. We hope the joint effort of many colleges and universities will make a positive impact and remove this unnecessary barrier to entry for the fall.
Since Monday, our Center for International Students and Scholars (CISS) has been working directly with international students who plan to take classes at Bentley this fall. We want to make sure they have all the support and information needed to navigate these strict guidelines and to continue their studies at Bentley, uninterrupted. The hybrid format of our Back to Bentley plan will allow enough in-person options for international students to maintain their status while studying at Bentley for the fall 2020 trimester. This information was shared directly with our international student community last night and posted to the CISS FAQ, along with more helpful information on returning to campus. Christine Lookner, associate dean of student equity and inclusion and director of CISS, continues to be an outstanding resource for our international community and has been answering questions and sharing updates every day this week. She will continue to do so in the weeks ahead.
We know there remain many more questions to answer about the fall, but every day we make decisions about our future that align with the Bentley Core Values. With a focus on Caring, Diversity and Respect for others, we must ensure our international students feel welcome and at home at Bentley. We look forward to many of these students returning to campus this fall.
The Bentley University Cabinet
Donna Maria Blancero
Ian Thomas Wall