Dear Brian Schmidt,
Over 5,000 students at the Australian National University are International Students. They are integral to who ANU is, our culture, our environment and our community.
We need you to move back the start of Semester 1 to give us all an equal opportunity to engage in our education and community.
More than 80% of these students have currently been shut out of that very community. On February 1, the Australian Government placed a complete travel ban on anyone currently in mainland China from entering this country.
Our students have since been alone, isolated and cut off from any of the typical support mechanisms we would typically support this University could've offered them. Being an international student is always hard - it's financially draining and academically difficult. However, words cannot even begin to capture how unprecedented the current situation is, or the level of impact it has on these thousands of students.
During this moment of adversity, it is important that the ANU stands behind all members of our community - not superficially, or only in sentiment, but by physically demonstrating your commitment to us. It is unjust to inevitably jeopardise the learning, education, relationships and connection to community for thousands of students. It is not the empathetic approach that a National University can pride itself on.
We ask that you delay the start of Semester 1 by one week, extending it from February 24th to March 2nd. Similarly, we also ask that you extend census date by one week from March 31st to April 7th.
We need to follow the lead of other universities, and do the right thing for all our students; not just the few. ANU has always been about equal opportunity and inclusivity, and this is when we must demonstrate that.
ANU International Student's Department