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Harvard Goes After Trump Administration

by Laura Steinberg

Harvard University President Larry Bacow is so angry he turned crimson. He’s furious that President Trump dared to threaten removal of their foreign students from the country simply because they were going to offer online only courses. Harvard teamed up with MIT to sue the Trump administration on Wednesday. Bacow might want to actually read the order though.

Harvard President feels ‘pressured’

“The order came down without notice,” Harvard President Larry Bacow gasped. And, its “cruelty” is “surpassed only by its recklessness.” Bacow is convinced the regulation “was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall.”

That’s not true. Universities like Harvard and MIT do not have to compromise “the health and safety of students, instructors, and others,” as Bacow exaggerates. They are all free to move forward with online only courses. The only thing that changes is that foreign students will have to log on from their home country.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology sent their lawyers down to the courthouse with the guys from Harvard to file the lawsuit on Wednesday. They jointly sued the Trump administration “over its guidance not allowing foreign students to take online-only courses in the U.S. this fall semester.” That statement is incorrect. They are allowed to take the classes.

Study from abroad

The president of Harvard acknowledges that the Department of Homeland Security made their reasoning crystal clear in an associated FAQ. “All students scheduled to study at a U.S. institution in the fall will be able to do so,” DHS explains, “though some will be required to study from abroad if their presence is not required for any in-person classes in the United States.”

That affects Harvard because earlier in the week they announced that, “all course instruction will be delivered online, including for students living on campus.” About 5,000 of their international students are about to lose their visas. As CNN notes, “Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited.”


MIT and Harvard are suing to block the executive order on the grounds it “violates the Administrative Procedures Act.” By not backing down on the provision for online-only courses, ICE puts them in an “untenable situation.” Either they proceed with online-only instruction and their students go home to sign in, or they start “providing on-campus instruction.”

It’s their students that Harvard is most concerned for, they insist. “for many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impracticable, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous.” The country may be dangerous but it’s also their home and they all promise to return after they get their diploma anyway. Oh wait, that’s just a technicality. Once they’re here they’re here to stay… well, then Trump came along.

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