With classes just a few weeks away, the thousands of students heading to New Mexico’s smaller universities will enter a fall semester like no other. Students will have options – to study remotely from home or inside their dormitory room or, for some, classes in a classroom. Many will be able to do both, mixing both remote learning with some brick-and-mortar instruction. If the students are in a classroom, they will have to wear masks, as will their instructors. The desks will be spaced six feet apart.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement walked back its plan to prohibit distance learning for international students Tuesday. The plan which targeted students on nonimmigrant F-1 or M-1 visas from being able to take all of their course work online this coming fall threw a few thousand students in New Mexico into uncertainty. The University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University have 1,100 and 1,000 international students respectively. New Mexico Tech has 134 and Western New Mexico University in Silver City has about 50 international students while Highlands University in Las Vegas has about 60. Highlands University President Sam Minner told NM Political Report on Tuesday the ICE policy issued last week is “shameful.”
Minner said where possible, the university was advising international students to take a thesis class in the fall to satisfy the ICE requirement that at least one class be in-person.
A number of women spoke out after a revered former athletic coach from Western New Mexico University told an anecdote during the school’s fall 2019 commencement that involved a possible rape – and meant the story to be funny. Coach James “Jim” Smith gave WNMU’s keynote speech Friday. During his speech, which is not available online, he reportedly told a story about finding girls in a boy’s dorm room decades ago and, as a dean at the time, he said he lectured the young men about breaking the rules. A story about the commencement, which included snippets of Smith’s speech, appeared in the Silver City Daily Press. “And I was really giving the one student a good speech,” the Daily Press reported Smith as saying.
At least three four-year universities in New Mexico are telling international students affected by President Trump’s controversial executive order affecting immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries to not leave the United States. The University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology formally instructed international students from any of the seven countries to not travel outside the U.S. in the near future. Trump’s executive order temporarily bars those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country. “Citizens of those countries, who wish to return to the US, should not plan to travel abroad at this time,” UNM wrote in a news release Monday. In his weekly letter to students and faculty, UNM Acting President Chaouki Abdallah noted that Trump’s order affects “more than 100 individuals in the UNM community.”
On Sunday, NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers made a similar call to his students.