on Student Visas Threatens Internationals
Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives came to an agreement
for a planned anti-terrorism initiative giving law enforcement agencies
more authority to monitor the internet communications of suspected
terrorists, and calling for a six-month moratorium on new student
visas, a measure which directly affects Oberlin, as well as all
other American institutions of higher education.
Initiated by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the freeze will begin
immediately after the legislation is passed and will prevent all
foreign students from attending schools in the United States without
a previously obtained visa.
Objections to the governement policy have been heard across many
college campuses, including Oberlin. A six-month moratorium
on all student visas is unthinkable. A six- month moratorium in
the issuing of new visas seems foolish. I think it is a bad idea,
College President Nancy Dye said. Oberlin plans to continue its
tradition of admitting internationl students, allowing these students
to defer as long as neccessary in light of the freeze on visas.
Oberlin has always been a very cosmopolitan international
institution, we will in no way weaken our commitment to the education
of international students, Dye said. She also remarked that
she had sent a letter to Feinstein stating her disapproval of a
freeze on visas.
many questions of civil liberties and privacy rights have risen
out of the pending legislation, the original Bush administration
plan could have had even larger repercussions for the Oberlin community.
Following Democratic opposition, a section of the anti-terrorism
legislation requiring academic institutions to divulge the personal
files of international students upon the request of local, state
or federal authoriities was omitted.
legislation has, for some students, raised larger questions of the
values and motivations that guide U.S. policies.
There is a big difference between national security and xenophobia,
junior David Levin said. First year Andrew Zilm had similar sentiments.
The policy is nothing more than an attempt by the bourgeois
Bush administration to show their supposed commitment to national
security, when it is nothing more than a xenophobic policy destroying
the ideals of freedom upon which our country was based, Zilm
In Congress as well, concerns about the constitutionality of this
bill were raised. Many members of the House and Senate voiced anxieties
about passing a bill which included the ability to hold suspected
terrorists indefinitely without being charged. Tantamount to a suspension
of habeas-corpus, the House instead amended the proposed legislation.
newly reached agreement allows authorities to hold a suspected terrorist
for up to seven days without charging the suspect with a specific
crime. Although pleased with the amount of bipartisan support the
final bill recieved, the Bush adminsitration voiced disappointment
with the sunset feature of the legislation, which calls
for a renewal of the legislation in two years by Congress or it
will be terminated.
On the proposed, but later discarded law obligating colleges to
turn over the personal records of foreign students, President Dye
was quick to voice dissatisfaction.
If the Federal Educational Records Privacy Act were to be changed
in the ways that Ashcroft wanted to change it, Oberlin must abide
by the law, she said, But happily it seems likely that
a revised bill will go both to the house and then to the Senate
which does not contain any provision that would change students
privacy rights, Dye said.