Some Penn students need to lock down summer plans soon, and not just so they can land a competitive internship. Instead, they need to find a way to stay in the country — or their ability to return to Penn in the fall could be in jeopardy.
Although President Donald Trump’s executive order — banning citizens of Somalia, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Iran from entering the United States for 90 — was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii, many students from the affected countries remain uncertain about the future of their immigration status and fear not being able to re-enter the country should they go home for the summer.
Some universities announced that they will provide free summer housing for international students impacted by the order. Penn does not have a general policy to accommodate all affected students, and is instead working with students on a case-by-case basis.
Ithaca College was one of the first schools to announce that they would take action after the Ithaca College Student Government Association asked the university to provide on-campus summer housing for affected students, the Ithaca College Intercom reported.
Ohio University followed suit a month later, according to the school paper, announcing that it would provide housing and other accommodations to students who might be affected by the policy, but did not specify if or how much students would be charged.
College junior and incoming President of the Undergraduate Assembly Michelle Xu said that the UA would be interested in trying to work with the University to provide similar accommodations.
“This is definitely an interesting project and one the UA could pursue if someone on the body wanted to and if there was interest expressed from the student body,” Xu said.
College junior and UA College Representative Sola Park added that the organization would most likely not be able to take it on as a project until next semester.
“This seems like a great project idea and something I am personally interested in pursuing,” Park said. “We’re just in the middle of transitioning and have only one GBM left before school ends but I’ll be interested in bringing this to my committee and working on it next year.”
Executive Director for Education and Academic Planning Rob Nelson said that while the University does not have a general policy regarding summer housing for students impacted by the immigration policy, they are working on a case-by-case basis to ensure that all those in need of support over the summer are taken care of.
“So far all the students that we’ve identified have made arrangements either by finding work on-campus or finding an academic program to pursue this summer,” Nelson said. “If there are students who are struggling to figure out summer plans and they have not made contact with their academic advisor, they should do so immediately.”
College freshman Aula Omer was forced to search for on-campus work-study jobs over the summer that provided free accommodation in college dorms. She found an opportunity at Penn Hospitality Services, but the deadline to apply had already passed. However, after reaching out to explain her situation, she was given an extension to apply and interview, and will now be working the front desk at a college house this summer.
Omer is from Sudan — one of the countries affected by the policy — and said she felt that the University has not been proactive about providing concrete solutions like summer housing and employment for affected students now that the initial furor over the executive order has died down.
“I feel like the University is under the impression that this went away, that everybody is fine because nobody is talking about it anymore,” Omer said. “They kinds of gave us short-term help but nobody thought of the long term.”