The preparation process for going back to school this fall has been a rollercoaster ride across the United States, but for UConn students, no two events have been more sudden than the July 6 decision by ICE at the federal level to rescind exemptions allowing international students to remain on F-1 visas without in-person classes and the Aug. 11 decision by UConn to urge all out-of-state students to remain home if they were not required to be in-person.
UConn has thousands of international students currently enrolled, as well as thousands currently out-of-state, so both of these announcements affected large portions of the student body.
Obviously these two instances are unique from each other and have many differences, such as the fact that the ICE plan affected way more than just UConn and that it was reversed before going into effect, but the key similarity between the two is the horrible timing of each announcement and the small window of time they gave students affected to react.
ICE’s decision left students with less than two months before classes started to deal with a whole new reality, with many already having paid for housing and selected courses. Having to uproot and leave the country is not only a huge hassle, but right now it is downright dangerous. Not only was there a short period of time for this, but ICE dropped this announcement with little to no lead-up, causing a scramble to reverse the order that would never have had to happen had a period been allowed for discourse on why this would be a bad idea.
UConn’s statement provided an even smaller window for reaction. Four days before the first move-in day was scheduled, students were greeted with the newest attempt to “de-densify” campus. In a time when traveling is already a major risk, and travel plans are made way more than four days in advance, taking a reactionary approach is the last thing leaders should do. In a perfect world, everyone would be on campus and COVID-19 would no longer exist, but that’s not the world we live in, and in this one we need to be proactive and prepared for every outcome.
So as the fall semester begins and COVID-19 continues to be a threat around the globe, I urge people to think long-term. Only thinking about what to do until the next curveball comes our way is going to cause more inconvenience and more risk than necessary.