UW-Madison students start petition asking for one-credit in-person course to protect international students

This comes as dozens of universities across the country are trying to find ways to protect international students this upcoming semester

MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin — Madison students started two petitions online in a call for action from Chancellor Rebecca Blank to implement a one-credit in-person course to protect international students from having to leave the country.

This comes as dozens of universities around the country that are working on plans to keep international students here after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that any international student who was only taking online courses must leave the country or risk deportation or arrest.

Following ICE’s announcement, Blank released a statement saying in part, “ICE fails to provide flexibility” and that “UW–Madison plans to offer a hybrid model of instruction that we believe would allow international students to enroll in face-to-face classes and remain in the United States while continuing their studies.”

But UW-Madison senior Mario Carrillo says that answer is too broad and gives no specific details on in-person classes being offered to protect the nearly 6,000 international students at UW-Madison.

“It’s unfair to ask international students to choose between traditional in-person classes offered and possibly expose them to COVID, or risking deportation and arrest,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo said even though he personally isn’t impacted by ICE’s announcement, being from a family of immigrants made him feel even more passionate about doing something to help.

“My parents came from Mexico. I’m the first person to go to college. I know that not everyone gets that chance. I know a lot of my friends who are Dreamers struggle a lot. That makes me want to help and be in solidarity with the international students at UW,” Carrillo said.

The petition already has about 7,000 signatures.

“It’s outrageous and discriminatory to target international students who may not even be able to go back to their home countries just because they are taking online courses. That is not acceptable,” he said.

Carrillo said while this specific request may not be the final solution, “It’s the first step that UW can take in order to prove they are committed to protecting international students.”

Blank was not available for an on-camera interview, but sent a statement saying, “UW-Madison is urging the federal government to stay or amend this plan through direct contact with Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation” and “We value international students and support them—we want them to be able to study here in as part of our community.”