Last week, I wrote about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy that would have forced international students to leave the country if their university went fully online to manage the risk of Covid-19. This sudden change in the rules for student visas had students and institutions alike scrambling to figure out ways to comply.
Social media erupted in protest as students, parents, teachers, and administrators expressed their concerns. Harvard and MIT sued to block the policy. Attorneys general in at least 18 states brought lawsuits as well.
Yesterday, the government rescinded the policy, allowing international students to remain in the U.S. even if they take all their courses online. I am thrilled!
ICE’s retreat is an important reminder that our voices can make a difference. I have little doubt that the public outcry helped motivate the universities to sue and the government to backtrack.
I believe we all have a responsibility to speak out against injustice — respectfully and with cogent arguments, not “flame wars.” Even if each individual voice is just one among many, collectively we can make a huge impact.
Speaking out is especially important for the AI community as we grapple with difficult issues of bias, privacy, surveillance, and disinformation. We need every voice — including yours — to fulfill AI’s promise for the benefit of all people.