As clueless undergraduates scar their campuses with shantytowns, set up “people’s universities,” and ruin their schoolmates’ graduations, Americans could be forgiven for forgetting that our universities remain the envy of the world. While some Americans are starting to question the value of a college degree, “learning to code” isn’t quite the social escalator without an accompanying Stanford computer-science degree. The enduring benefit of an American college education explains why more than 1 million foreign students study in the United States, and why many more seek to do so. But we should be more selective in whom we admit—and whom we kick out.

The chance to study in America is a rare and coveted opportunity. It represents a national trust, since virtually all American higher-education institutions get federal funding for research and financial aid. Universities must therefore consider the national interest when deciding to whom to offer places. They should admit students who embrace, rather than attack, America, its values, and its allies.

The pro-terrorist protests that have roiled American campuses, however, show that universities have abdicated this responsibility. International students have taken a central role in these protests and in fomenting anti-Semitism. Given how many foreigners want to study in the U.S. and how few are able to do so, one wonders why universities award these coveted spots to anti-Americans and anti-Semites.

Fortunately, the relevant authorities already have the tools to ensure that only deserving foreign students enjoy the benefits of America’s great universities. That the federal government has yet to take these obvious steps is proof of the Biden administration’s lack of concern about illiberal campus culture.

Universities enjoy tremendous taxpayer resources. Those that neglect their responsibilities to filter out anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western applicants should not continue reaping those benefits. The National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and other government organs that fund research should condition grants on recipients’ exercising due diligence when admitting foreign students. Simultaneously, the Secretary Of Education should issue guidance that schools with poor track records of filtering out students hostile to the United States—and thus harming educational opportunities for Americans, as various Title VI lawsuits now claim with regard to officials’ failure to stop the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students—may jeopardize their eligibility for federal student-aid programs.

The State Department can also double-check universities’ decisions when considering visas. State, however, has been an ineffective in this role, despite confirming in November that it could pull the visas of those who support designated terrorist organizations. Indeed, that fear of triggering deportations explains why MIT has declined to discipline foreign lawbreakers, effectively giving them more “rights” to intimidate, harass, and impede educational programs than American students enjoy.  

Students who commit crimes of “moral turpitude,” support terrorism, or otherwise harm American foreign policy interests are already inadmissible to the United States, as is anyone who engages in assault, arson, robbery, or even vandalism. Those committing such acts while in the U.S. are also removable. Acting as Hamas’s public-relations agents constitutes what the Supreme Court has called “material support” of terrorism. So does advocating for the elimination of Israel, our most reliable and stable partner in the Middle East—at least if this advocacy is tied to Students for Justice in Palestine or other organizations with funding or messaging connections to State Department-designated terror organizations.

Reform should start with the State Department making a reasonable inquiry into visa applicants’ propensity for supporting terror and denying applicants with a history of anti-Semitism (often demonstrated on social-media accounts). And students who have used their time in America to engage in anti-Semitic activism, like the recent spate of encampments, should not remain in the United States.

In other words, international students who enjoy the rare privilege of studying at our world-class universities should conform themselves to the norms and standards of our country. The State Department should review the conduct of all visa-holders attending universities plagued by anti-Semitic unrest and ensure that involved foreign students are not eligible for continued enrollment, let alone H1B visas or other opportunities to prolong their time in the United States.

Given that the Biden administration appears to lack the will or the competence to exercise the government’s authority, one hopes that a second Trump White House would make combatting anti-Semitism, and removing inadmissible foreign agitators, a day-one priority.

Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images


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