Supporting Our International Students
July 11, 2020
We at Pepperdine were both surprised and disappointed when, earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced modifications to its Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The changes indicated that international students holding F-1 and M-1 visas who attend schools operating entirely online would not be able to enroll in a full online course load and remain in the United States.
In response to this new policy, our deans, leadership team, faculty, and staff have begun to take immediate action to ensure our international students can remain in the United States to continue their education. We believe that international students deeply enrich and improve our community in numerous ways. Further, our Christian mission compels us to remind our international students and alumni that they are loved, their contributions to our community are highly valued, and they are an important and cherished part of Pepperdine's dynamic global community.
At this time, the Office of International Student Services is working closely with each international student to plan for the upcoming academic term. Due to the prudent planning of the Emergency Operations Committee and the leadership teams of each school, Pepperdine's COVID-19 reopening plan already incorporates a hybrid model for academic instruction for the vast majority of our programs, which will expedite our efforts and help keep our students safely participating in on-ground instruction at one of our campuses.
Simultaneously, we recognize that not every international student outside of our community is in the same position. Consequently, Pepperdine is collaborating with other institutions and organizations in an urgent effort to have this policy withdrawn. Earlier this week, I joined on behalf of Pepperdine a strongly worded letter sent by numerous presidents of other leading universities to each member of Congress urging a reversal of this restrictive policy. We believe there is a more productive approach that can be taken by the Department of Homeland Security that supports international students, including our own, during this unprecedented pandemic. Please join me in supporting our international students and in uplifting all students affected by this new policy in prayer.