A Message to the Kent State Community Regarding Our International Students
Dear Kent State University Faculty, Staff and Students,
As many of you already are aware, recent changes to federal visa regulations have forced the university and our international student community into a challenging situation. For our international students to retain their student visas, they now are required to take at least some in-person classes in the fall semester.
Although we are preparing for a return to campus for the fall, many of our classes will be held remotely for the safety of our Kent State community. This enables us to ensure the necessary physical distancing that is so important as we work to stem the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.
To accommodate the new regulations, we have been forced to act swiftly to ensure that all 1,409 of our international students have the needed in-person classes in their schedules in time for their visas to be properly certified.
I believe it is important to share with you a letter I sent to our federal representatives in Washington, D.C., asking them to urge the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider these new restrictions and return to the more flexible guidelines that were in place during spring semester to accommodate safety concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
I believe these new guidelines ignore the health and safety requirements for physical distancing, which are the reason we have converted so many in-person classes to remote instruction. Furthermore, these regulations are punitive toward international students, who are and will always be an important part of our Kent State community.
Kent State is an international education destination. Our students hail from 99 countries and include 12 international Fulbright Scholars funded by the U.S. Department of State. Our entire university community benefits from the diversity that our international students bring to Kent State. They are invaluable members of our Golden Flashes family, and their contributions to our learning and living environment are immeasurable.
Be assured that until we receive some hoped-for relief from these onerous regulations, the university is doing everything in its power to ensure that our international students can remain with us and continue their degree pursuit.
The Office of Global Education, the Center for English as a Second Language, and the deans and advisors in all our colleges have worked diligently to ensure that all international students have schedules that comply with the new rules. Several colleges already have achieved compliance for all their international students, and others are making extraordinary efforts, including adding new sections of face-to-face classes to accommodate these students.
Their efforts have been exceptional, and I thank everyone involved for their hard work. This is a great example of our students-first focus and demonstrates just how far we go to ensure that Flashes take care of Flashes.