Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester say they strongly oppose a federal decision that would strip some international students of their visas.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program announced Monday that international students on M-1 and F-1 visas would no longer be able to take online classes, and must either transfer schools to take in-person classes or risk deportation.
RIT President David Munson says that the school is working with others to ask Congress to intervene directly. He says that RIT will do their utmost to ensure international students can retain their visa status and continue their studies.
Hanna Tischer,a recent RIT graduate from Brazil, says that while she’s managed to “escape by a thread,” many of her friends at RIT are also from Brazil. But, since RIT will maintain a hybrid of in-person and online classes, their visas are not at risk. But others may not be so lucky.
“Having to figure out everything that’s going to happen in, god knows how long, maybe a month is just not enough time,” Tischer said. “It was like a bomb dropped in everybody’s lap.”
The University of Rochester said in a statement that the policy is misguided and jeopardizes the public health and the safety of thousands of international students who will be forced to return home.
Devin Hott, a recent University of Rochester graduate, said that she worked with first year international students as a resident advisor and has seen how much of a sacrifice it is for students to come here for school.
“To have to terminate your studies just because you are from a different country, again, is xenophobic. it just re-enforces so many awful ideas,” Hott said.
On Wednesday, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over the decision.
An online petition to allow international students to remain in the U.S. with online-only classes started on Monday by a University of Rochester student has garnered close to 300,000 signatures.