A Letter to the Editor of the New York Times in Response to “The Mideast Came to Idaho State. It Wasn’t the Best Fit.”


March 24, 2016

The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY, 10018

To the Editor:

“The Mideast Came to Idaho State. It Wasn’t the Best Fit.” by Stephanie Saul raises questions about foreign students in the United States that require thoughtful, evidence-based approaches. But we must not forget that international students are an asset, not a threat.

For decades, foreign policy leaders have pointed to international students as our greatest asset. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “We never know when and where America will need allies in this world, and no program is more successful at making friends than education in the United States.” International students also contribute to our classrooms and support our leadership in business and scientific innovation.

But we risk losing these contributions if we don't attract a wide diversity of students or fail to provide support. NAFSA was founded after WWII to ensure students from Europe had a positive experience in America. This need still exists today, but some seem to have lost focus on why this matters.

At a time when we need friends and allies around the world, universities and communities must work to ensure students can be successful from admission to graduation.

Marlene M. Johnson
Executive Director and CEO
NAFSA: Association of International Educators