[sg-gc] In Solidarity With Our International Colleagues [UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board]

From: Monical, Alexis [BSD]
Subject: [sg-gc] FW: In Solidarity With Our International Colleagues [UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board]
Date: Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 3:55:28 PM CDT
To: “sg-GC@lists.uchicago.edu” sg-GC@lists.uchicago.edu

Hey GC Reps!

See below for a letter to sign in support of international students from the UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board and amplify our voices even more. Consider sharing with your divisions!

Alexis Monical
MD/PhD Candidate, G2
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

From: phd-list_urm-request@lists.uchicago.edu on behalf of Derek Nettingham
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2020 2:47 PM
Subject: [phd-list_urm] In Solidarity With Our International Colleagues [UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board]

To students, faculty, staff, and all members of our UChicago community:

The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed
influences that keep us apart.” -Kwame Nkrumah

We on the UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board release this statement in solidarity with our international students whose places at United States collegiate institutions have come into question by the current Administration.

On Monday, July 6th, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an order to modify exemptions for nonimmigrant students by threatening to refuse F1 and M1 visas to students who will not be taking in-person courses for the upcoming school year due to the on-going health pandemic.

This order has dire implications for international students at the University of Chicago who do not have control over whether or not they will be able to comply with these unsafe and unnecessary demands. According to the University’s latest “hybrid” plans for Fall 2020, instructors are responsible for working with their departments and programs to decide whether or not to hold classes online or in-person. This puts instructors and their supervisors in an appalling position to decide between risking personal health (i.e. exposure to COVID-19) or having students deported. We believe the grave consequences from this decision calls for the University administration to take up the responsibility of implementing centralized plans to protect all members of our community.

We unapologetically denounce this deliberate use of a global pandemic to further push an agenda of discrimination and bias against marginalized populations in the United States. This order is a direct attack on our international colleagues that is being falsely portrayed as a proactive measure to ensure national security. We support the safety and health of all people both in the United States and in our international communities, but we do not support the Administration’s attempt to covertly exploit and perpetuate xenophobic ideals behind the veil of protecting the United States.

To remain committed to the founding principles of the University, and create an inclusive environment where diversity is not only represented but individuals are empowered to fully participate in the exchange of ideas that is foundational to the experience of the University, we demand that the University of Chicago Administration follow through on their pledge to protect and advocate for students and staff who are being affected by this order and other policies like it. In addition to the steps outlined in the Administration’s email sent July 8, 2020, we demand that they take more concrete steps that the University can take to support our campus community. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Provide direct funding to international students in need of financial assistance for travel and living expenses in response to these threats,

  2. Join Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and many other universities in filing a lawsuit against DHS and ICE to prevent enforcement of the order and its consequences, such as deportation attempts,

  3. Protect the physical and mental health of international students by refusing to cooperate with ICE. Such protection includes refusing to give any student information beyond the bare legal minimum, actively preventing the presence of ICE officials on campus, and, if they do appear on campus, assuming responsibility for how their presence affects students’ well-being and ability to carry out academic responsibilities,

  4. Public transparency and meaningful responses to student feedback about the course of actions the university administration will take to protect international students (e.g., hold public meetings that allow for audience interaction),

  5. Install safety nets alongside direct challenges to the order, such as creating one-credit courses that allow international students to meet the minimum in-person requirement and giving international students priority registration for in-person classes,

  6. Make concentrated efforts to quickly provide students with pertinent information regarding current and future threats to international students (example FAQ from Penn State) and the university’s response so they can make informed decisions. We expect this information to be made available well before the Fall 2020 course schedules are published on July 27th and the first round of registration opens on August 3rd.

  7. Be at the forefront of challenging this immigration order by ensuring informational resources and plans of action are also accessible to other universities throughout the country.

In the last few months, we have been called to reflect on the inequities and injustices that are facing people on campus, in the surrounding community, state, and country. In recent statements, we have been asked to “learn and listen, to examine history, to challenge assumptions,” to “explore bold ideas to address racism and inequality,” to “take a fresh look at concrete actions we all can take to build a more just community,” and to “strengthen our culture of diversity and inclusion so that all members of our campus community are welcome and valued.” Our board has now offered concrete actions that can ensure all members of our campus community are supported, protected, and welcomed. We now ask that you follow through on transparently enacting university-wide, structural actions that support the ideals you profess.

If you feel likewise, we ask that you sign this Google Form https://forms.gle/mfEVigaeQSbpSRrt8 to show your support. We will send this to the University Administration as a show of collective unity and strength is needed to challenge these continued xenophobic, racist, and otherwise oppressive attacks against our marginalized communities. These signatures will serve as a collective call for the UChicago Administration, and each of us as privileged members of this academic community, to stand by our recent declarations against injustice in this country and protect our fellow UChicago members who are facing the undue burden of being targeted by xenophobic acts of oppression. By answering this call through strong, specific actions, we are upholding the University core values of respect, safety, responsiveness, collaboration, accountability, and quality. Please sign by Tuesday, July 14th, 2020.

[Also please share throughout your Division/School]

In solidarity,

UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board

Update: the university is joining the amicus brief as informed by President Zimmer and Provost Lee: Further University Steps in Support of International Students | Office of the Provost