July 14, 2020 - International Student Update

To the Bowdoin community,

I write with good news, something in short supply these days. As you may have heard, earlier this afternoon the Trump administration rescinded its July 6 guidance (and related July 7 FAQ) that would have seriously endangered the ability of international students at colleges and universities across the country to pursue their educations. 

The government’s decision was announced by a US district court judge in Boston during a hearing in a lawsuit brought by Harvard and MIT—a suit that was supported through amicus briefs signed by Bowdoin and many other schools. This means that the government’s March guidance permitting students to take classes online during the COVID-19 emergency remains in effect. I could not be more pleased with today’s result or more grateful for the efforts across the higher education community to vigorously oppose the government’s plan.

While the news is welcome, I am also very aware that this has been a week of great anxiety and uncertainty for our international students and their families. I hope that this decision brings some relief and the ability to now look ahead.

Our international first-year students and other international students who qualify to be on campus, and who can get to Brunswick, will be able take their classes as described in my June 22 message about our plan for the fall without any impact to their visa status. And those students who plan to participate in online classes from their home countries or other locations will also be able to proceed without worrying about their visa status. 

We know that, with all the uncertainty of this past week, some of our international students with home situations where learning would be extremely challenging may have missed last week’s deadline to request the opportunity to spend the fall semester on campus. We are extending the deadline for these international students to apply for campus housing until this Sunday, July 19, at noon (EDT). Just as a reminder, because of unique circumstances affecting international students, first-year international students continue to have until August 26, 2020, to ask for a deferral, and upperclass international students also continue to have until August 31, 2020, to make a request for a personal leave of absence. International students with questions should be in touch with Khoa Khuong, associate dean of upperclass students.  

I am tremendously grateful to our faculty who were unequivocal in their support for our students and in their willingness to help us as we worked on alternative plans to serve the needs of our international students. I am also very grateful to our staff, students, and alumni who have supported our international students at this very difficult time. This care and support for one another is at the core of what makes Bowdoin special.

All the best,