For international students studying at Lehigh, what are the implications of the U.S. presidential transition? Will there be immediate changes to student/scholar visa status? Will the new administration affect students’ chances of getting a job after graduation?
Lehigh’s leaders, including President John Simon and Provost Pat Farrell, as well as those directly involved in the university’s counseling services, religious life and community outreach came together Tuesday at Lamberton Hall to try to answer those questions—and many more—and introduce students to the people who can be resources for them should issues arise as part of the transition.
“I think we all acknowledge that this is an uncertain time,” said Cheryl Ann Matherly, vice provost for international affairs, noting the rhetoric of a heated presidential campaign. “We are all making it a priority to speak from what we know.”
About 50 people turned out for the 90-minute discussion, with many questions submitted in advance. Concerns centered on matters related to immigration status, visa, career implications, the campus climate and personal safety.
Among those on hand to answer students’ questions were Twana L. Walker, director of advising, College of Business and Economics; Rita Jones, director of the Women’s Center; Chelsea Fullerton, director of The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity; Lloyd Steffen, university chaplain; Rabbi Danielle Stillman, director of Jewish student life; Lehigh Police Chief Ed Shupp; Frank Roth, Lehigh’s general counsel; Adrienne Washington, assistant vice president of community relations at the university; Ian Birky, vice provost for student affairs; Karen Salvemini, the university's compliance officer; and Yuah Jessica Choi, a Philadelphia immigration lawyer.
“You are a part of our community,” Simon reassured the students who had gathered for the Q-and-A session, “and we are fully committed to the educational experience that we want you to have here and the careers that you want to have when you graduate.”
Farrell also assured the international students that they have the full support of the faculty.
On the issue of visas:
On the issue of safety:
On the issue of freedom of religion:
Chris Liang, associate professor of counseling psychology, told the students that while the university is a great resource for them, they are all also great resources for one another.
“You do not need to do this on your own,” he said. “This is a community. We are all part of this community. So if you see something happening, stand up for one another. We are all together on this.”