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First-year international students offered new options for fall 2020, University reverses previous position

| Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Last week, The Observer reported Notre Dame was giving first-year international students who were unable to secure a visa one option for the coming year — defer their education until fall 2021. Tuesday, the University reversed its decision in an email offering the incoming students more options for the next semester.

This announcement came on the same day as ICE reversed their decision to force international students to return to their home country in the event that their school went completely online.

The Observer previously reported on a statement posted on Notre Dame’s website saying first-year international students would be unable to attend online classes if they could not make it to campus.

“Given the University’s emphasis on holistic formation, fully remote instruction will not be offered to first-year undergraduate students, but these students will be able to defer their matriculation until fall 2021,” the website said.

Students expressed outrage at the lack of options and encouraged others to write emails to the University about their concerns.

One week after the original statement, the new options were sent to first-year international students.

According to an email obtained by The Observer, the University has provided four different options.

International students who are able to travel to Notre Dame are still encouraged to do so. In the event they cannot, three other options were provided: study away locally, deferral for a semester or a year or “other academic provisions” in which the student can fill out a request form to likely study online from their home country.

Studying locally entails students using some of the University’s “existing study abroad partnerships and exchange programs available within [their] local country or region.”

Students taking this option would be fully enrolled at Notre Dame and “receive all of the same support that [they] would provide to any study abroad student.” The email said ND International would make room and board arrangements. However, these options are not available in every country.

If a study abroad program is not near their home residence, students could fill out the request form to “remain academically engaged” at Notre Dame, likely through online courses.

Juliana Dantas, an incoming first-year student from Brazil, expressed her gratitude to the Notre Dame community for their support in an email to The Observer. She also credits fellow first-years: Arav Arora for leading them to request change, Dana Ishaq’s petition that helped them spread the word and Javier Salas in helping write the email template they sent to administration.

“We were contacted by so many people in the ND community: the alumni advocated for us, domestic students (both freshmen and upperclassmen), student government, The Observer. … So many were involved in supporting us with not only words, but also by emailing the administration, signing the petition, etc.,” she said. “We had our voices amplified by people we have never even met yet and caused change in less than a week. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped us. We’re not even on campus yet, but I, and all of the other international students, have already felt more than welcomed by everyone who’s a part of Notre Dame.”

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About Mariah Rush

Mariah is a senior majoring in American Studies and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She is from the great city of South Bend, and was the Managing Editor of The Observer for the 2020-2021 school year. You can find her always on Twitter at @mariahfrush.

Contact Mariah