July 13, 2020

SMC Stands with International Students

Dear SMC Students:

On Monday, July 6, the federal government announced that international students who are pursuing education in U.S. colleges and universities would have to leave the country if their institution offers online-only courses or transfer to a school that offers at least a hybrid model of online and on-ground courses. This announcement runs contrary to Santa Monica College's stated mission of serving "diverse individuals from local, national, and global communities . . ." Since that news became public, SMC has taken several steps to assess how best to advocate for and support our international students, who make this their college of choice over almost all others in the U.S.

More than 2,200 students from 99 nations enrich this college's learning environment and literally bring the world to us. Our international students make SMC one of the most vibrant and diverse colleges in the world; it is not possible to sum up in words the invaluable perspectives, cultural and intellectual contributions these students—who often travel thousands of miles, leaving the familiar—bring to this college, to our local/national students, to all of us.

We stand with SMC's international students, and value them as an integral, inseparable part of the college community. We are very aware of the anxiety these unjust new guidelines have caused international students during a global pandemic; we are meeting with students and are actively engaged in advocacy efforts.

The SMC International Education Center has been extremely proactive, reaching out to international students individually soon after the announcement went public. The college is doing everything possible to parse the new regulations and is currently exploring the best academic/curricular hybrid options to ensure that they can continue to work towards their educational goals here at SMC without disruption.

On Thursday, July 9, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, and California State University Chancellor Timothy White announced the filing of a lawsuit by the State of California challenging the July 6 federal action. (Read the lawsuit here - PDF). Chancellor Oakley—who leads the system that includes Santa Monica College—stated that California is "standing up for the nearly 22,000 international students who attend our community colleges and standing up for our right to continue teaching and learning in a safe and responsible way during the pandemic." (Read Chancellor Oakley's full statement here).

In collaboration with the California Attorney General's office, an SMC team worked around the clock over the weekend to provide vital information in support of the State's lawsuit. The college will keep international students informed of the outcome of this lawsuit, and of any further developments in the college's efforts to advocate for them.

International students: Santa Monica College is your college, and we are working wholeheartedly on your behalf. I realize these present circumstances make being patient an especially difficult task; thank you for the questions you have asked and for the patience you have demonstrated.

Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D.