Following the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement temporary modifications issued for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for nonimmigrant students taking online classes during the Fall 2020 semester, Texas Tech student body president Hunter Heck addressed the petition posted by the Student Government Association on Wednesday. 

Heck, a senior philosophy and Spanish major from Panhandle, said the petition already existed on the White House website and when she and her team heard about the decision for SEVP to mandate this requirement for all international students whose institutions had transitioned online to leave the United States, they knew they wanted to take a stance against that and support international students at Tech.

“The reason that we shared it, and all signed it is one, this is impacting international students nationwide, and we…wanted to oppose that decision but also, we wanted to empower our Texas Tech students to be able to come together and cultivate this thing for togetherness, of, you know, mutual respect and ensure that every single Red Raider knows that they are welcome here at TTU, and that they are valued here at TTU,” she said.

After sharing the link to the petition on SGA’s Twitter and Facebook, Heck said the posts have over 500 retweets and over 12,000 engagements. She said she hopes every student, faculty and staff will sign this petition.

The next step for Tech now is finding a more tangible way on-campus to specifically care for international students at Tech, Heck said.

“Currently, the hybrid model that Texas Tech intends to implement this fall will protect most of our international students,” she said. “So thankfully right now, the only ones that would be impacted are those whose programs are only online, or who have enrolled in all-online credit hours, and I know that administration is exploring various avenues and they are committed to ensuring that all of our international students are able to stay here.”

If COVID-19 calls for another campus shutdown and another transition to online-only instruction, Heck said she believes Tech is prepared to find a way to keep international students here and keep them in compliance with any new regulation.

On behalf of SGA, Heck said she wants all international students to know that they are heard, that they are welcome, that they are valued at Tech, that they deserve to continue their education here and that they make campus a better place.

“I just want them to hear that in as many forums and avenues as they can, because a decision like that from your government is not welcoming, or it's regressive, and that's just not a Texas Tech mindset and that's not what Student Government ever wants our international students to feel,” she said.

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