Students draft statement against ICE ruling, demand Northwestern take action; Schapiro writes NU to support Harvard and MIT lawsuit


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

University President Morton Schapiro speaks to parents and families. Schapiro announced Wednesday that the University has joined an amicus brief in support of Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit.

Isabelle Sarraf, Copy Chief

In a statement addressed to University President Morton Schapiro and his associates, students implored University administration to release a statement on what concrete actions will be taken to protect Northwestern’s international students.

This comes two days after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students in the United States taking online classes due to the pandemic this fall may risk deportation if their full course load is conducted online.

[Read more about how the ruling may directly affect Northwestern students]

On Tuesday, Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty sent an email to the community that said the University is studying the announcement closely to determine how the ruling may impact NU’s international students. She said administrators will be taking steps to ensure international students are in compliance with the new policy.

The students’ statement said Hagerty’s letter failed to address the “egregiousness” of ICE’s policy. Her message “lacks any note of defiance or determination” to ensure students can remain in the country, the statement read, and “ultimately abandons” international students at NU.

“This is not the time to passively work around the rules ICE has put in place, but rather to use active resistance against increasingly draconian, xenophobic and authoritarian measures put in place by the current federal government,” the statement read.

On Wednesday night, Schapiro sent a community-wide email saying he was “horrified” by the ICE guidelines. Since NU plans to adopt a hybrid model in the fall, he said he expects international students to be “largely unaffected” by these “capricious and indefensible directives.”

“I want every one of our international students to know that your University community stands beside you in this painful moment,” Schapiro wrote. “You are not alone. We will support you in the days ahead.”

The students’ statement also addressed Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s joint lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to protect their students, as both schools have announced entirely online schedules. Since NU’s plans for in-person classes are still in flux due to the pandemic, students who drafted the statement wrote they “expect nothing less from Northwestern.”

Schapiro added in his email that the University has joined an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit.

“Northwestern’s overriding priority, since the beginning of this global health emergency, has been to ensure the safety of all our students and enable them to remain on course toward completion of their degrees,” Schapiro wrote.

The coalition of students and allies demanded that the University use its “vast discretionary powers” to leverage its status and collaborate with other higher education institutions to pressure ICE to reinstate previous guidance which enabled online classes to count toward a full course of study.

They also demanded the University prioritize class registration times to international students for any potential in-person classes that occur in the fall and create fail-safe options for those students to stay on campus. According to the Office of the Registrar, undergraduate preregistration for Fall Quarter courses is tentatively August 17.

In addition, the students demanded NU pledge to assist international students in any necessary travel, lodging and other living expenses.

Given the University’s pledge to ensure the safety of its undocumented community, the students demanded NU ensure it does not endanger its undocumented students by closely reviewing information requests put forth by ICE. They also demand NU commit to the “bare legal minimum” level of cooperation with ICE in regard to the enforcement of these regulations.

“Should ICE appear on school grounds, Northwestern University should bear full responsibility for the physical disruption caused by their presence and the mental distress resulting from the outcome of any potential arrests,” the statement read.

As of Wednesday evening, the statement was endorsed by over 150 international students and graduates, 780 non-international students and graduates, 90 student organizations and over a dozen faculty and staff members.

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