President Sarah Bolton

President Bolton issues statement in support of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students, graduates

November 25, 2019   /  

On Monday, Nov. 25, Wooster President Sarah R. Bolton emailed the following statement to the campus community concerning this week’s hearing on the OPT topic in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:

Dear Wooster Community,

A diverse and international community is central to Wooster’s mission “to prepare students to become leaders of character and influence in an interconnected global society.” Living and learning with individuals from across the country and around the world is crucial to that preparation, for every student. Our excellence depends on it.

Recently, several issues have arisen that could make it difficult for our international and immigrant students to complete, or fully benefit from their educations. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the federal DACA program, through which thousands of dedicated young people, who were brought to the United States as children, are able to work, study, and live securely. This week, there is a hearing regarding Optional Practical Training (OPT), an important component of the international student visa, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

OPT provides international students who are attending U.S. institutions with valid F1 visas the opportunity to gain critical work experience either during or immediately upon completion of their degrees. This program has been extremely valuable to many Wooster students who have used OPT to build their on-the-job experience and navigate their professional paths. Companies and organizations of every size have benefited from this program through the ability to hire international students and graduates for up to 12 months without the restrictions of the H1B process.

Our international and immigrant students, faculty, and staff are vitally important and deeply valued members of the Wooster community. And so it’s critical that we do all we can, as individuals and as a College, to support them.

The College of Wooster is a signatory to briefs in the Supreme Court and in the U.S. District Court, explaining why the contributions that international students and DACA recipients make to our country, our communities, and our campus are so important. I’ve shared some of those ideas more informally, as well, in this recent OpEd in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

We are honored and fortunate to have students born in more than 60 nations studying on our campus. We will continue to stand with all of them. Their talents and perspectives bring so much to Wooster, and they will make a tremendous impact both while in college and far beyond it.

Sarah Bolton