By Minah Ali (CE’23)
(Editor’s Note: The version of the letter published to the website was adjusted for formatting. A link is avaibable to the unchanged article in the body of the text. A link has also been provided to sign the letter here)
A few hours after President Trump tweeted “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” on July 6th, the Department of Homeland Security released a broadcast message titled “COVID-19 and Fall 2020”. Seemingly politically and financially motivated, the announcement reeked of xenophobia. It stated that nonimmigrant F-1 students taking a fully online course-load, which the Cooper Union was following as of June 2020, may not remain in the United States, possibly facing deportation. On July 9th, the Cooper Union administration responded to this crisis with an email stating a shift to a hybrid model of learning, which requires all international students to be in the US. However, with the SEVP regulations preventing students from taking online courses outside of the US in a hybrid model, international students would not have the ability to remain in their home countries to continue remote learning. In the administration’s email, this clause was misunderstood, which, given the severity of the crisis, shows irresponsibility. A collective of students took action to ensure that the Cooper Union protects all international students at the institution in a letter emailed to the administration.
The following letter was written collectively over the course of 36 hours and amassed almost 250 signatures before being sent to the administration on June 9th at 8 PM EDT: