OSU Files Federal Lawsuit to Support International Students’ Education

To: Faculty, staff and students

From: F. King Alexander, President

July 13, 2020

I am writing to share that today OSU – along with 19 other western United States universities – filed a lawsuit today in federal court in Eugene to keep the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from enacting proposed restrictions on international students taking online college courses while in America.

It is in keeping with Oregon State University’s mission as a global land grant university that we seek to protect the educational status of nearly 3,500 international students attending OSU. Here is a link to news release on the university’s case. 

The federal government’s proposed restrictions are reckless and arbitrary, and without notice put at risk the education and wellness of thousands of international students.

As you know well, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, OSU and many U.S. universities and colleges transitioned in spring from in-person to remote instruction. At the time, the federal government provided more flexible immigration rules that allowed international students to take courses online while in the U.S. or abroad while retaining their immigration status due to the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced it will issue new orders to reverse the COVID19-related flexibility provided since March.

If enacted, the federal order could unfairly force students to return to their home countries during a global pandemic and to relocate to their home countries – some of which have unstable political and public health conditions. Meanwhile, some students no longer have homes in those countries.

The federal government should not place such burdens on international students and America’s universities and colleges without notice, considerations of the impact and well-reasoned explanations, all of which he said are required by federal law.

I will continue to provide updates to the university community on this matter, as new information is available.

In closing, I want to be clear: enrolling and educating international students will remain a core element of the global mission of Oregon State University. As a former international graduate student myself, I want our international students to remain focused on their studies during this difficult period and not the arbitrary threats coming out of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.   

Engagement of international students, researchers and educators in education and the open and interdisciplinary pursuit of research and discovery is foundational to OSU’s mission and the education of students from throughout Oregon, the nation and the world to succeed in a 21st century economy and culture.


F. King Alexander