July 13, 2020

Dear Oberlin Community,

I am sure you have read about the federal government’s most recent effort to curtail the presence of international students in the United States. The decision would require international students to leave this country if their college shifts fully to online study because of COVID-19. We view this decision as capricious, arbitrary and harmful to our students and our community. 

There is no justifiable reason for this approach. Students who need to complete a program remotely should be able to do so without jeopardizing their active and lawful status either within or outside the United States. International students bring diverse perspectives and experiences, and contribute to our commitment to prepare all students for a global society.

I write today to the entire Oberlin community, because even though this measure focuses on international students, any such rule that singles out a segment of our student body should concern us all. We are consulting with legal counsel to determine what, if any impact, this decision would have on our international students. It would certainly have an impact if the pandemic forces us to be remote for the term. We are considering alternatives to assist our international students should the need arise during the fall semester.

In the meantime, to demonstrate Oberlin’s convictions, I have joined presidents from the other Ohio 5 schools and signed a letter asking the Ohio congressional delegation to oppose this measure. We have done the same with our Great Lakes College Association colleagues. Oberlin also has joined an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit that Harvard and MIT has filed against the federal government to prevent this measure from being implemented.

Oberlin is enriched by the presence of international students, and we would be irreparably harmed by this decision. It is my hope that our efforts will assist in its reversal.

Carmen Twillie Ambar
President