Amherst College Joins Amicus Brief in Support of Harvard/MIT

The filing decries a new federal policy that would force many international students around the country to leave the United States.

The clock tower on Johnson Chapel on the campus of Amherst College

Amherst today signed on to an amicus brief in a show of support for a Harvard University- and Massachusetts Institute of Technology-initiated lawsuit contesting the July 6 modifications to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. In adding to the chorus of dissent, the College joined nearly 60 universities and colleges and 18 states across the country decrying the policy change. 

Among other changes, the guidance requires international students with F-1 visas to leave the United States or transfer to another school if those individuals’ institutions offer remote-only instruction in the fall. While Amherst plans to offer strictly regulated in-person education for a portion of students--many of whom will likely be non-U.S. citizens--the College stands in solidarity with peer institutions opposing the rules from going into effect, arguing it violates the Administrative Procedure Act.

Amherst President Biddy Martin did not mince words when she articulated the College’s stance on the issue in a July 7 letter to the community. “ It makes no sense whatsoever to have international students penalized because institutions have made the best possible decisions regarding the health and safety of their campuses in a pandemic,” she wrote. “The inability to predict the course of the pandemic also means that colleges and universities across the country may have to move all classes online at some point. The action announced [on July 6] will also jeopardize the ability of international students to pursue professional opportunities during and immediately following their education; these opportunities are a core part of what an Amherst education offers.”

She closed her note with a pledge: “We will do everything we can, within the confines of the law, to help our international students persist in their studies at Amherst, an opportunity they have rightly earned,” she wrote. “Their presence enhances the education of every other student and helps create the intellectual and social vibrancy that makes Amherst what it is. Their contributions extend far beyond our campuses to the rest of this society.”

Read the amicus brief.