North Texas Daily

University responds to ICE’s international students policy

University responds to ICE’s international students policy

University responds to ICE’s international students policy
July 10
10:08 2020

This story has been updated.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced new international student guidelines Monday, requiring students with F-1 or M-1 visas to be enrolled in at least one in-person course or risk deportation.

There are currently 2,500 international students from 141 countries attending the university.

President Neal Smatresk sent out an official announcement Friday morning where he said the university is committed to doing anything they can to keep international students enrolled.

“Let me simply say that I do not support this action and it is incumbent on us and our dedicated staff in UNT International and our academic programs to work closely with all of our international students to ensure that they can stay enrolled at UNT with enough face-to-face and hybrid courses available for them to meet the federal guidelines,” Smatresk said in the notice.

Smatresk said many international students play an integral role in teaching and research and enrich the university community in “incredible ways”.

“We greatly value the diversity of thought and traditions they offer, which enlivens our classroom discussions, research endeavors and our inclusive sense of culture,” Smatresk said. “We truly believe that no scholar can operate at the forefront of their discipline without global collaborations. International students are not only a wonderful, diverse part of our campus culture, they are intrinsic to our university purpose, mission and vision.”

Senior Communication Specialist Trista Moxley shared a statement from the university with the North Texas Daily prior to Smatresk’s official notice:

The UNT community cares deeply about our international students and we are committed to providing them with continuity of education. The recent federal mandate has made it more challenging for us and the students, but we will do everything in our power to keep our international students here and provide them with options for moving forward with their degree plans.  

Specifics on what options the university will provide for international students were not available as of July 9. International students who are not currently enrolled in at least one in-person class can reach out to the university’s International Affairs office at 940-565-2195 or international.advising@UNT.edu.

The Daily asked Moxley what classes may count as a gray-area for the guidelines, such as classes that start as in-person but transition online during the semester. Moxley said she is working to obtain an answer.

International graduate student Victor Tralci said the university reached out to him Wednesday to start discussing what options are available to him since all his classes are online.

“They feel confident they can find a solution,” Tralci said. “However, until they finalize those solutions, I will still have the same fears I felt at the start of this.”

Tralci said he wants to remind people international students bring a lot to the table for both the university and other universities across the nation.

“International students bring a lot of diversity to this institution and a lot of culture,” Tralci said. “Besides that, they have a big impact on finances. They make such a big body of students and they bring billions of dollars to universities across the country.”

Psychology junior Emily Love, a close friend of Tralci, has been vocal in support of international students. Love said sharing and signing petitions is an important part of advocating for international students.

“Supporting our international friends during this scary time is the most important overall,” Love said. “There are many things out of our reach as students and — past that—  we just need to have trust that UNT cares about their international students as much as they say they do.”

This story was updated June 10 to include an official announcement from President Neal Smatresk.

Featured Image: The bell tower atop the Administration Building at the University of North Texas rings out to an empty campus on April 27, 2020. Image by Ryan Gossett

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Matthew Lippi

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