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ISRTF Update August 25, 2020

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International Student Response Task Force Update

August 25, 2020

Dear OU Community,

I write to update you on the work of the Task Force. We have continued to meet regularly since our work commenced in early July.  Our work has focused on six key areas.

Tracking the regulatory environment. In the aftermath of the ICE decision to withdraw the highly problematic July 6 policy directive (see earlier Task Force updates), a number of uncertainties and ambiguities regarding visa issuance and curricular implications remained. We have aimed to interpret and provide the best advice to international students in their diverse situations through the process.  

Making fall semester arrangements as smooth as possible. A key focus of our efforts has been to plan for and implement back-to-campus and remote-learning arrangements. This has involved an extensive effort on the part of International Student Services, Housing and International Admissions to provide arriving international students with every assistance possible, including arranging airport transfers, providing laptop computers where needed, facilitating Covid tests and other assistance.  We advocated successfully for the harmonization of travel and testing protocols for domestic and international travel.

Listening to international student voices. We have continued to engage with the International Student Advisory Group, and have held two international student Town Hall events, with another to be scheduled soon.  We have also reviewed communications from international students, in order to understand the complex situation they face.

Coordinating advocacy efforts. We have helped international students to process requests for the assistance of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation, among other advocacy efforts.

Gathering information from peer universities. We have endeavored to stay in touch with peer universities, to learn from each other as we go through the pandemic, particularly with respect to the ambiguities in the legal environment.

Scenario planning and fund mobilization. We are mapping out contingencies to ensure our students are well protected in any eventuality in the coming weeks.  Our current focus is on the attempt to mobilize funds with which we can respond should cases of hardship arise.

Our work is ongoing, and I encourage you to reach out to any Task Force member or to me as Chair if you have any suggestions or questions.  If you are an international student with a question about your specific situation, please contact International Student Services at iss@ou.edu

Warmly,

Scott Fritzen

Dean, David L. Boren College of International Studies
International Student Response Task Force Chair
sfritzen@ou.edu