On Sunday, July 12, Brown University joined 58 additional colleges and universities in filing an amicus brief in support of legal action by Harvard University (Harvard) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to block new federal guidance on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on July 6, this guidance will prohibit international students from returning to or remaining in the United States if their colleges adopt online-only instruction for Fall 2020, or if students choose online-only instruction, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While Brown is planning for a 2020-21 academic year that integrates both on-campus and remote instruction, Brown University President Christina H. Paxson underscores,
“This new temporary rule is nothing short of cruel. It comes at a time when every student, regardless of their country of origin, should benefit from the maximum level of flexibility to pursue their studies in a manner that they or their institutions decide has the highest capacity to support their health and safety.”
Brown’s amicus brief strongly supports Harvard and MIT’s action to seek a temporary restraining order with a U.S. District Court to block the implementation of the new rule. The brief argues that the new rule: (1) entirely fails to address the reliance that schools and students across the nation placed on the government’s March 13 Guidance, which afforded schools broad flexibility to navigate the current public health crisis; (2) entirely fails to consider the dilemmas schools and students will face in conforming to the new policy, and does not explain why those dilemmas are justified; (3) does not consider in any way the substantial compliance burden it imposes on schools; and (4) includes no reasoned explanation in support of the new policy.
The U.S. District Court decision in the case for a temporary injunction is expected to be delivered Wednesday, July 15.