Student organizers for Monday’s rally to demand protection for international students updated their demands for the university Saturday evening.
Saturday, rally co-organizer Melanie Schroers said in a post on the event’s Facebook page the community was calling for nine demands to protect international students.
The first demand is a guarantee for an in-person option to satisfy the new ICE rule, and if OU moves to moves to a predominately online course platform, that the same accommodation of in-person classes will be made available, free of cost, tuition and other fees “if so needed.”
The second demand is for “support and accommodations” from the Office of Academic Affairs and the deans of colleges in the event international students cannot return to the U.S. These accommodations should take into account time zones, internet access and “other unique difficulties these students will have to face.”
The third demand is for the university to develop a detailed, transparent plan on how OU will avoid breaking the new ICE rule if classes switch to a fully-online model and still ensure international students will not be deported.
The fourth demand is for OU to commit to not disclosing citizenship information of students unless legally required.
The fifth demand is for the university to commit to making all OU campuses non-enforcement zones.
The sixth demand is for OU’s Office of International Student Services to email all international students a detailed explanation of their legal rights regarding interactions with ICE agents.
The seventh demand is for a guarantee that international students will be able to access immigration lawyers through Student Legal Services and mental health counselors through Goddard Health Services, and that international students will be prioritized in accessing these resources “in a timely manner.”
The eighth demand is for a list of contacts from the Office of International Student Services that will be on-call 24/7 for guidance and support in the event an international student outside of the U.S. is denied entry or delayed.
The final demand is for “support and accommodations” should international students have to leave the U.S. during the semester if classes go fully online.
These accommodations include but are not limited to providing a full description of all important considerations to international students before the start of the fall semester; assisting students with relocating their belongings and financial support when purchasing flights; timely distribution of required paperwork including I-20 forms; accommodations for class attendance, materials, office hours, tutoring and “general accessibility;” urgent priority in accessing immigration lawyers and mental health counselors through university resources; and additional assistance for students whose countries have closed borders and airports, travel bans, humanitarian crisis or other circumstances “which would make the process of returning home either more difficult or impossible.”
Monday’s demonstration was organized after OU’s College of International Studies responded to the recent ICE decision to revoke visa status for students whose universities choose to move all classes online. The university initially said it would require international students to transfer to another institution or leave the country if OU's classes move online at any point during the semester, and students must be enrolled in at least one in-person class to maintain their F-1 visa status.
In a July 8 letter to the university community, President Joseph Harroz said OU was forming a task force to assess the situation led by Scott Fritzen, dean of the College of International studies. As international students called for a more concrete response from the university, Fritzen said in a June 10 email that OU has partnered with 180 colleges and universities in the amicus brief filed in support of Harvard University and MIT’s legal complaint against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The rally for international students is planned for Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at OU’s North Oval. Participants are asked to wear masks, socially distance and refrain from taking identifiable pictures of other protesters.