Dear Cougar Community:

We want to be crystal-clear: Washington State University fully supports the ability of all international students to pursue a college degree.

We feel compelled to make this public statement in light of the announcement earlier this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it would discontinue visa exceptions for international students on F‑1 visas who take all of their courses online. The decision could force hundreds of thousands of international students to leave the United States and threatens the academic work of more than 2,100 students across the WSU system.

The new federal policies are unjust and damaging. At a time when universities nationally are creating plans and contingencies to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff during the COVID‑19 global pandemic, flexibility in delivering classwork is critical.

International students are an incredibly important part of the WSU experience for all of our students. They contribute to the vibrant cultural and intellectual life of the University, bringing a valuable perspective and deeper global understanding of cross-cultural issues to our community. We stand with our international students—who already are dealing with a host of anxieties created by the current pandemic—and pledge to continue working to support them and reverse this federal decision.

Toward that end, WSU will join with other universities nationally to pursue options for protecting our international students. We are heartened by the bipartisan support of our Congressional delegation, many of whom are calling on the federal administration to rethink these new policies. They, and other elected leaders in our state, such as Gov. Jay Inslee, have long-supported our international students. Already, more than 15,000 faculty nationally have added their names to an online petition urging ICE to rescind its decision. Harvard and MIT have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the decision.

Our Office of International Programs is working tirelessly to develop strategies to retain our international students. Plans are proceeding to ensure students enrolled in fall semester receive a balance of live and remote courses. Virtual programming has been introduced to build community and an online town hall recently was held to listen to and address students’ concerns. In addition, an International Student and Scholars Fund Emergency Aid Fund was reestablished in partnership with the WSU Foundation. If you need any assistance or have questions, please send an email to ip.intlservices@wsu.edu.

Despite the continuing challenges we face, we remain committed to ensuring the opportunity for all of our international students to pursue higher education. It’s ingrained in our land‑grant mission, and it’s the right thing to do.

Kirk Schulz
President

Bryan Slinker
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

Elizabeth Chilton
Incoming Provost and Executive Vice President

Asif Chaudhry
Vice President for International Programs

Mary Jo Gonzales
Vice President of Student Affairs

Colleen Kerr
Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations