BELOIT—Beloit College President Scott Bierman is condemning an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) order that foreign students living in the United States take in-person classes or leave the U.S. However, the college is planning to offer online and in-person classes in the fall.
“We feel that the Beloit educational mission is best met in a residential environment. We know students desire to come back to learn in that climate and so we felt we could develop parameters for a safe and sensible plan,” said Provost Eric Boynton.
Boynton said the option of online courses will be available for students who can’t be on campus due to medical conditions, or for foreign students back in their countries who may not be able to obtain visas to return on campus.
“Students can progress toward their degree even if they can’t go on campus,” Boynton said.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities’ guidelines issued Monday mandating international students leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools offer classes entirely online this fall, shouldn’t be a problem for Beloit College students.
“If a foreign student is in the country we can offer face-to-face learning. We have the structures so that ICE doesn’t impinge on that. In the cases of students who can’t get visas in, they could still go online,” Boynton said.
Beloit College President Scott Bierman sent a letter to faculty, staff and students on Wednesday condemning the recent ICE ruling.
Bierman said the ruling—which requires that international college students living in the U.S. take at least one in-person class or leave the U.S.—limits important choices that ought to be available to both international students and the college.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, we need every available option to ensure individual and community health. Period. The ICE ruling leaves us needlessly faced with decisions that compromise the health of our students and the quality of their education.
We are fortunate that our Office of International Education (OIE) is sophisticated in navigating these waters and completely committed to the success of our international students. And, OIE has willing partners all around the college: our faculty and staff are fully invested in realizing the mission of the college through delivering an education that is accessible to all students.”
Boynton said students who attend on campus may do some online learning, but will have the majority of their courses face-to-face. Beloit College will be offering some courses in outdoor spaces as well as utilizing its new Powerhouse facility to ensure social distance between students.
“Everyone will wear a mask, and we will be creative about teaching and not packing people into classrooms. That involves using technology as well as face-to-face instruction,” he said.
For the most part, students living on campus will be in single rooms. Unlike many colleges with large dormitories, Boynton said Beloit College has smaller living spaces spread across the city.
The dining experience will also be different, with more grab and go options.
As much as possible clubs will meet outdoors, and students will use Zoom for one-to-one meetings with faculty.
“Faculty will have office hours on Zoom. Most of our offices are not large enough to meet face-to-face,” Boynton said.
The college is still awaiting more information from the Midwest Conference League regarding its sports offerings this fall.
Thanks to a lower student population than many larger colleges and universities and assets such as the Powerhouse, Boynton said Beloit College is equipped to ensure social distancing.
“Beloit has the luxury of fewer students across a large campus,” Boynton said. “In a certain way Beloit and it’s small size and large footprint will be a healthy environment during COVID.”
Thanks to its new Mod program, the students will be able to move to all online learning quickly in the event the college would have to switch to all online learning due to COVID-19.
Starting in fall 2020, Beloit College is dividing its semester into two Mods, each containing two courses. Instead of taking four courses at one time, students will do intensive work in two subjects. The courses allow the college greater flexibility about when it starts and ends.