In late June, the Trump administration announced that it would order international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online due to COVID-19.
However, the administration retract that statement in mid-July after many universities threatened legal action.
The on-again, off-again threat frightened many UMKC international students, who were concerned they would have to uproot their lives completely. Some did not know if they would have a home to go back to.
Zik Nganga, a senior from Nigeria studying business administration, has made a life of his own in Kansas City, hosting a podcast at UMKC called Fired Up.
“When I got the news, I was really shocked,” said Nganga. “I actually made a post on all my social media platforms about it because I already was struggling financially as an international student, and now I’m getting kicked out? It was so frustrating.”
Many students were already frustrated by the financial burden they shouldered for this upcoming semester. International students also worried they could be sent home with huge debt and no degree.
Toluwanimi Olatunde-Salawu is a junior, also from Nigeria, studying mechanical engineering. When he heard the news, his reaction was pure shock.
“For a moment I felt confused,” said Olatunde-Salawu. “I do not understand how a group of people can contribute so much to a country, without receiving any of the perks of being a citizen and still be treated so wrong.
“They never said anything about what we bring to the U.S. economy, what we bring to the campuses you find us in, the culture we help create, and overall, the value we add to individuals,” he said. “It took a scare like this to make us actually remind the country that in 2018 we contributed $45 billion to the U.S. economy, and that is really just tuition…”
Tom Kruse, a senior from Germany studying accounting, also felt frustrated by the decision.
“Just imagine you are dependent on staying in the U.S. throughout your academic career, or you took on a student loan just to get the college experience in the U.S.,” Kruse said. “And now the government takes it away because you’re an international student.”
As coronavirus cases continue to rise, many international students still worry that similar actions could be taken in the fall.