The Student Assembly requested the University to provide international students majoring in economics an extra two years of U.S. employment by recertifying their major as a STEM-based program according to federal guidelines, in a packed assembly meeting on Thursday.
Cornell’s economics major is currently recognized by the federal government as a “general” economics education, which sanctions only one year of work authorization in the United States after graduation.
The resolution will recertify the economics major into an “econometrics and quantitative economics” program, which will provide international students studying the major with two additional years of legally working in the United States without a work visa.
The recertification “conveys enormous benefit upon the employment prospects of international students, including additional opportunities to apply for H1-B visas, increased employability and extended professional training,” the resolution read.
The S.A. unanimously voted in favor of the resolution in an assembly meeting where supporters of international students occupied almost all the audience seats.
While the resolution must be approved by President Martha A. Pollack prior to implementation, University administrators has already signaled support for recertification.
Prof. Lawrence Blume, chair of the economics department, told The Sun that the department “will pursue certification” absent any significant barriers. Prof. Charlie Van Loan, dean of faculty, also signaled that recertification would be a “nice idea” in an email included in the resolution’s appendix.
Cornell will be following the precedent set by five of the Ivy League universities if it chooses to recertify its economics major, according to the appendix. The University of Pennsylvania is also in the process of considering recertification.
Christopher Schott ’18, S.A. international student liaison at large and resolution sponsor, argued that while there are currently approximately 50 economics majors by his estimation who are international students, recertification will be in the interest of the entire international student community.
“Limiting opportunities for even just one among us is paramount to unequal treatment for the entire international student community and the Cornell student community at large,” Schott said.
The resolution may also help students push “to certify other STEM majors,” Schott added.
The S.A. also passed another resolution sponsored by Omar Din ’19, which advocated for the recognition of Muslim religious holidays, specifically Eid-al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, which may conflict with the current academic schedule and Ramadan.