The independent news organization of Duke University

In solidarity with international students

guest letter

The past few months have been exhausting, especially for Black students across America. At Duke, we have received multiple emails regarding the university’s solidarity with Black students, which have included actionable plans to support us as we continue to be a part of this community. Despite these gestures of support being long overdue, we acknowledge them. In conjunction with these mechanisms of support and in solidarity with Black students, we as DukeAfrica executive members demand Duke release a statement of action regarding the recent news from the U.S Immigration and Customs modifications to temporarily exempt non-immigrant international students from taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. We encourage all students, alumni and faculty to reach out to Mr. Chris Simmons, Associate Vice President of Government Relations at Duke University, to raise their concerns regarding the recent news, and demand Duke push back while offering actionable and transparent steps regarding their efforts against these racist police institutions. 

Standing in solidarity with Black Students means recognizing the institutions that disenfranchise all Black lives including our international brothers and sisters in Africa. We are aware that some international students, from Africa and elsewhere, are in their home countries as a result of COVID-19 and are not able to get back to the United States of America. To further bar them from receiving credit for courses that disrupt their educational path is institutionally racist, given the police unit with a legacy of being anti-immigrant especially under Trump’s regime. In recognizing the value that international students bring to this college, and even more the neo-colonial structures that force them to come and study abroad, universities should push back against this policy by requiring that their international students are considered just like their American students, deserving to continue with their studies unaffected.

A statement with actionable steps will allow us to hold Duke accountable in their solidarity. In fact, it will allow us to experience the solidarity that they have claimed to hold with Black students here at Duke in the past few months. As executive members of DukeAfrica, we are intentional about every African student on campus and while the school might not know all of them well-enough, we have met these students at events, in programs, in classes and built our own community centered around helping each other navigate college life. Furthermore, we have often collaborated with other Black affinity and international student groups, and Black faculty and staff. Therefore, we encourage all student groups to join us in pushing Duke University to release a statement with actionable steps that centers and values their International counterparts like anyone else on campus. We are all deserving of a right to education and completion of our degree in good time. 

Lastly, we encourage people to engage with ICE as a police unit, and realize that whenever we talk critically about the police they should also be considered in the conversation. All students across America should engage with their administrations regarding this pressing and urgent issue. While it is easy to disengage in national conversation as a result of it being a huge system, this is a chance for them to actively be involved in a system that has long perpetuated the issues we are currently facing in the world, especially in America. 

That said, here are the links to the petitions that everyone should consider signing: 

  1. Duke must release an actionable statement supporting their international students
  2. Allow International Students to Finish Their Degrees
  3. Let International Students Stay

Ebehiremhen Anita Izokun is a rising senior from Canada majoring in Psychology and minoring in Political Science and Education. She serves as the Co-President of DukeAfrica. James Mbuthia is a rising junior from Nairobi, Kenya pursuing Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies and International Comparative Studies. He serves as the Director of Education and Advocacy and Editor-in-Chief of Khaya Magazine, Duke’s premiere Black Publication under DukeAfrica.


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