On March 4, 2021, the University of Washington introduced a new policy for academic student employees (ASEs ) working overseas. This policy requires ASEs working overseas to file a declaration committing to a date for coming to the US.
The declaration states that if ASEs failed to follow the policy, it might consider as a resignation from their work as research assistants, teaching assistants, and more. It also limits departments from giving new appointments to ASEs currently overseas.
The declaration straightway contradicts UW’s covering recommendation for telework through September 10, 2021. It is also a breach of the collective bargaining agreement. Acknowledging its disproportionate impacts on ASEs teleworking from non-US locations, union UAW Local 4121 has filed a complaint which is yet to be solved.
The declaration is the most current in a series of policies and is haphazardly communicated with limited information. The outcome has deeply affected the UW community’s foreign members since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year.
While these are odd times for individuals and institutions alike, UW continuously turns the responsibility of navigating these uncharted waters onto individuals.
Impacts on International communities
Last summer, UW assured its international students that they are a significant part of the University of Washington community. However, the UW’s words and actions contradict, this seems that the UW is ignoring the realities of international students working abroad due to insurgent disturbances during a global pandemic.
ASEs working overseas have tried their best to enter the US, despite restrictions that are considerably out of our control. The reason ASEs are abroad because of uncontrollable reasons i.e embassy closures, travel constraints, care-taking responsibilities, health problems, economic limitations) while shoving the risks that working from abroad may have on their taxes, visa regulations, and much more.
ASEs working overseas are facing so many challenges such as staying on top of coursework remotely, contending with time differences, fast-changing border control regulations, responsibilities to families, and much more.
Having yet another challenge added has been demotivating to ASEs working overseas.
UW truly values diversity and strives to make its campus home for almost 8,000 international students, this in action through policies that offer ASEs concrete support for their uniquely challenging circumstances rather than compounding them.
UW has always considered itself a leader in global health, with expertise on how COVID-19 has worsened imbalances across the globe, ASEs asked that it fully recognizes how global structures impact its student’s abilities to undertake international travel in the current moment.
Along with other UW community members throbbing to revel in the cherry blossoms on the Quad, to take and teach classes in person, and to conduct research at the top-notch facilities that UW offers, ASEs are looking ahead to being physically present on the campus. However, the UW’s current policies are little more than conservative efforts to brute force this reality into existence at the expense of its international community members who are shouldering the costs, uncertainties, and responsibilities for making it happen.