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"Go Local" Policy for Chinese Students at Rice University

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We are writing this letter to petition for a proper plan for Chinese international students.

With the influence of COVID-19, most of the VISAs and plane tickets are not available for Chinese students. As a result, It’s highly likely that we have to at least take a whole semester online.In that case, we will not be able to participate in various clubs and campus events, greatly affecting our experience as Rice students. What’s more, due to jet lag, we are concerned that we have to follow an unhealthy schedule-get up every mid night to attend courses. Internet lag also poses great challenge for us considering the distance between China and US, and we face additional challenge of crossing the Great Fire Wall to access some study resources.

Therefore, we want a plan of “go local”. New York University announced a “Go Local” policy allowing students to study in-person on the nearest NYU campus. On June 30th, Cornell University announced a similar policy called “study away”, which gives international students who can not arrive in the United States due to visa delay and travel restrictions the opportunity to study at selected universities in their home country.

With this in mind, we call upon Rice University to adopt a similar “Go Local” policy for international students to address the reduction of educational quality due to remote learning and lack of access to other learningresources, as well as the negative professional impacts of reduced networking opportunities. The policy is expanded below:

1) Keep track at Rice with 12-15 credits online, offered asynchronously

2) Take 1-2 courses at local universities

3) Accessing student facilities, libraries, and activities of the local universities

First, staying at a Chinese university campus can greatly improve the quality of our experience for this semester. To be more specific, Rice Chinese students can live together and know each other well, creating a more conducive learning environment. Also, campus life, which is a big part of college experience, can be ensured.Under this plan, we are able to take part in local students’ organizations and events, which can be highly meaningful. In addition, being able to step into studios and laboratories is really essential for students in certain majors, and studying in local universities could supply these opportunities that are otherwise almost lost completely

Second, allowing students to attend a nearby college can largely reduce the inconvenience of taking remote classes at midnight. This is because that some credits can be earned through a local universities so that remote classes take up a smaller portion in the student’s schedule. Of course, this depends on other policies that Rice already has (e.g. transfer credit policy), and we understand that Rice University reserves the right to make and change these policies.

In addition, Rice could take advantage of its abundant study abroad resources to negotiate with universities in China to help with the “Go Local” policy, or modify an existing study abroad program with respect to the current situation. On the official website of Rice Study Abroad (, there are exchange programs collaborating with Fudan University, Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Zhejiang University. These programs typically last for a semester or an academic year, which is an ideal time length for international students in China. Hence, we see opportunities in converting these already existing programs into special “go local” plans to enhance Chinese international students’ quality of learning next semester.

We petition that Rice University offers the option of “Go Local” policy for international students to make up for the inequality of learning experience and academic resources between local students and international students. Compare to students who are already in US, international students like us are equally willing to learn but are disproportionally affected by the current situation. In this way, we wish that the university, which has always recognized Chinese students as an integral part of the community, could recognize our difficulties and provide help accordingly. Plans like “go local” and “study away” are widely adapted by universities around US to help Chinese students overcome learning obstacles for next semester, and we wish that Rice could provide similar help to us. We understand that the university is facing a great number of challenges at the moment, but we do think that special accommodations mentioned above is crucial for Chinese students’ learning experience next semester.

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