DGHI's Pop & Pull Parleys Encourage Rich Conversation in a Judgment-Free Space

The most recent gathering centered on ICE restrictions and international students

A word cloud created at a recent DGHI Pop & Pull Parley

Pop & Pull Parley participants created a "What keeps you going?" word cloud together.

By Melissa Mills, Blen Biru, Maya Stephens, Margaret Lillie

Published August 3, 2020, last updated on August 12, 2020 under Around DGHI

On July 16, the DGHI Community, Diversity and Inclusion Committee held its third Pop & Pull Parley of the year. These impromptu gatherings invite DGHI community members to “pop in, pull up a chair and have a discussion.” The issue that prompted the gathering was a new policy by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that modified the eligibility requirements for fall 2020 international student visas. 

The July announcement reversed ICE’s March 2020 policy directive which recognized the need for rapid response and adaptation based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 pandemic recommendations. In particular, it allowed F and M visa eligibility to international students enrolled in degree programs without regard to whether their classes were held in person, entirely online or as a hybrid mix. The sudden change of policy would have required institutions to re-issue all Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) certifications by August 4.  

On July 8, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE over the rule that would have kept international students from attending online-only universities. Soon after, Duke University joined 58 other colleges and universities in signing an amicus brief that supported the Harvard/MIT lawsuit. The amicus brief can be read here. On July 14, ICE and DHS rescinded the policy change.

Community, diversity and inclusion are fundamental components of global health and the ICE policy change invited a moment for DGHI students, faculty and staff to connect, share and consider. About fifteen DGHI community members dropped in virtually via Zoom to chat. Led by DGHI staff assistant Melissa Mills and facilitated by CDI’s co-chairs, Maya Stephens and Margaret Lillie, the discussion agenda was simple and centered on two questions:

• What was your reaction to the new ICE policy? 

• Do you have a story to share? 

Many participants condemned the irrational and divisive nature of the restriction. Individuals also shared personal stories of how restrictions like this affect them and the people in their lives. Predictably, the discussion moved toward the question, “What can DGHI do to transcend messages and circumstances counter to local and global health?” Suggestions included writing op-eds and blogs, generating alternatives to heal ruptures, and developing a DGHI program to address migration-related issues. 

The Pop & Pull Parley ended on an upbeat note. The virtual nature of the meeting allowed everyone to participate in the creation of a word cloud that produced a lasting memento (see image above). The word cloud question was “What keeps us going?” "Love" and "Embracing diversity" were among the responses. We invite readers to take a moment to think about what keeps you going, too.

Please join us for our next Pop & Pull Parley! Follow DGHI on Facebook to stay tuned for future discussion dates.