Much work at Georgetown (and most other US universities) over the past few days has been focused on ties between the university and the larger world outside the US.
The work has, of course, first been centered on international students from the seven named countries facing new restrictions on entry to the US. Ongoing meetings have taught us that each of the affected students has a unique story and set of issues going forward. They need guidance and updated facts about implementation of new policies. We agreed that ongoing meetings would be needed to stay current with the rapidly changing regulatory environment.
Several things became clear in this meeting:
- Many of the students face prospects of not being able to return to the US if they left during vacation time, summers, or other breaks.
- Many of the students were enrolled in programs that had credit-bearing features that take students outside the US for learning experiences.
It became clear we have work to do.
We recently were able to establish an agreement with a local law firm to provide pro bono legal counsel to these students. The guidance was clear to the students that, under current interpretations, current students with statuses supporting their educational activities had the ability to complete their programs when remaining in the US.
Later we had a meeting with admissions’ leaders for Georgetown programs. We are in the heat of reviewing applications right now; we have large numbers of applicants from outside the US. Most seek a start to their programs in fall, 2017. These students can add to the richness of differences so important to the global orientation of Georgetown. In the meeting, we taught each other about the timing of different review processes and the need to interact with international students expeditiously to facilitate visa acquisition. We decided to do all we could to hasten our evaluation and communication processes this year, in order to get our chosen students into the visa application process as soon as possible.
We also have asked all programs to invent accommodations for international students in programs requiring experiences outside the US, so that they can complete the requirements of the program.
Finally, we decided to send a note to all of our current international applicants for next year, noting that Georgetown values them as an integral part of our academic community, and to convey that, once accepted, we will welcome them to Georgetown and do all we can possibly do to ensure their successful completion of their program.
For over 200 years, Georgetown has embraced students from around the world. They have enriched our intellectual and social community; we have learned much from them; they have pursued careers that have contributed to the common good. We will not alter this part of our mission.