I was partly amused and partly saddened by the first sentence of last week’s article, “War on terror exiles 3L.” The sentence reads as follows: “The sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign finally reached Harvard Law School when 3L Ahmed el-Gaili was prevented from returning to the United States to finish law school.” Actually, the campaign reached the Law School quite a bit earlier.
The “sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign” first reached Harvard Law School last fall, when the Harvard International Office first warned foreign students that if they traveled outside the U.S. they would face substantial delays and uncertainty in obtaining visas through U.S. Consulates abroad and during the reentry process. It continued to reach us when one S.J.D. student from the Middle East (who has been at Harvard for six years) went to a three-day conference in Europe last spring and ended up being unable to return to the U.S. for two months for visa reasons; when another S.J.D. student from the Middle East (who has been at Harvard for seven years) has not risked going home to visit his family out of fear that he would be denied a reentry visa; when two other S.J.D. students from the Middle East have been unable to return to Harvard this fall after going home for the summer because they have not been granted visas more than three months after their original visa interviews; and when three LL.M. students (one of whom attended college in the U.S.) have had to defer the start of their studies for a year for the same reason. Not to mention the fact that numerous staff members in the Graduate Program, the Registrar’s office, the Dean of Students office, and other offices have been working for months to put mechanisms in place to comply with the new Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) mandated by the INS.
International students at Harvard — particularly those who previously have not spent much time in the U.S. — frequently comment on their U.S. colleagues’ myopia towards the rest of the world. The Record’s coverage of world events and attention towards international students has occasionally given me cause for optimism. Last week’s article was not one of those occasions.
— Gail J. Hupper, Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and
International Legal Studies