A letter to Rice’s international students

President David Leebron and Provost Reginald DesRoches sent the following message to Rice’s international students in a July 8 email:

We write out of deep concern for the consequences of the recent announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement affecting international students studying in the United States. These rules require those students to be enrolled at a university that is not offering solely online courses and instead is in full on-campus operational mode or, as Rice currently plans, a hybrid mode. Moreover, under the new rules, if a school begins hybrid instruction but is forced to convert to all online because of the public health situation, international students either must then either leave the country or transfer to a school offering in-person instruction. In addition, students remaining outside the country who continue their studies online might require a new visa approval if the university is in hybrid operation and they return later.

We deeply regret the cruelty of these arbitrary regulations. Rice will do all it can to join with others to overturn them. This will include participating in legal actions and advocating with our representatives. In the meantime, we intend to continue to operate in hybrid mode and take the necessary actions to allow our international students to remain in the country and continue their studies.

We are committed to establishing a path for our international students who are already in the country, or who are able to arrive in Houston, to stay in visa compliance and have a great experience at Rice. We are constructing strong dual delivery approaches that are consistent with the new regulations. For our students who are unable to travel to Houston, we will take a flexible approach to enable them to continue their studies, and when possible join us in Houston.

We want to say explicitly what should go without saying: Our international students, from all over the world, are a vital part of our community and we are grateful for their presence at Rice. Our admission policies and the welcome we extend to our international students will remain unchanged in the face of the obstacles being imposed by federal regulators. Indeed, we will seek ways to enhance our policies and actions to welcome these students who so enrich our environment and who apply the benefits of their education both to the United States and countries around the world. Many faculty, students, staff and alumni have communicated their strong support of our international students. As one student said: “International students contribute so much intelligence, culture and value to our campus. Losing international students would be to lose an integral part of Rice University.”

We disagree deeply with policies and actions that diminish opportunities for international students to study in the United States or to remain in the United States following their studies for internships, work experience or other purposes. Please know that we are working tirelessly to find the best path forward for our students and our community. We will adopt the policies that most fully enable our international students to prosper at Rice, consistent with protecting the health and safety of our community.

We will communicate further as we learn more. In the meantime, please know that we fully support you and will take what take what steps we can to support your studies and future success.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a senior editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.