Spring Hill College international students give their perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic and the directive that ICE announced over the summer.
In March 2020, SHC international students had to make a decision to either stay in the states or go back home due to rising U.S. COVID-19 cases. Benedikt Kraemling, a senior from Germany, made the decision to stay on campus during the quarantine. “At the beginning, I was kind of scared to leave the country to travel since the coronavirus really just started globally.”
He spoke about his experience on campus and explained that he does not regret staying “...I was staying safe, I had an apartment on campus. The campus experience was completely different. It felt like a ghost campus because all the students were gone and it was just not usual. I still enjoyed being at Spring Hill since it’s such a beautiful campus but it’s nothing without the students.”
On July 6, 2020, ICE made an announcement that would affect international students, especially those who remained in the U.S. during the quarantine period, such as Kraemling. According to the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, international students would be sent home if they were taking more than three credit hours online. If classes were to go entirely online at some point during the semester, then international students would have 10 days to either transfer to a school that still had in-person classes or go back home.
In reaction to the ICE announcement, Kraemling shared his thoughts, “...Since the decision was made, if everything went fully online, I was really concerned that would happen. I’d have to go back home and just leave everything here. I just got a new apartment and I planned on staying longer, but I think it would have been okay to go home. I have my family, could study online, would be safe and if it’s the best decision of the college to do that then that would be the only way.”
Most international students returned to their homelands to quarantine. Fabian Keiblinger, a junior from Austria, made the decision to go home during the quarantine. Keiblinger shared his thoughts on the announcement from ICE and returning to the United States. “It was like shocking news at first for all the other guys who were still in the States… I was kind of nervous coming back because I saw the [posts on] social media, all the news...but then when the day came and I flew back I wasn’t nervous at all.”
In response to the backlash that was received after the ICE directive was announced, ICE has since rescinded the order.