Foreign-student advocate
Seasoned expert assists visiting scholars

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs



From his office in International House, campus veteran Ted Goode directs services for Berkeley’s 5,000 international students and visiting foreign scholars.
Peg Skorpinski photo

23 January 2002 | With lawmakers and the nation taking a new look at immigration policy, the weeks since Sept. 11 have been uncertain ones for foreign students and visiting scholars across the country. Those at Berkeley — some 5,000 a year — are fortunate to have a seasoned veteran to help them navigate this time.

Ted Goode, director of the campus’s Services for International Students and Scholars, may be soft-spoken and unassuming, but his knowledge of matters affecting foreign students and visitors — from financial aid, work permits and special advising opportunities to current developments in immigration policy — is encyclopedic.

“We know that visa officers are beginning to introduce stricter requirements for students returning to school from overseas,” he says. “There’s a lot of unease among students right now about proposed legislation for new visa requirements and tighter constraints on their whereabouts once they arrive.”

His office, located at International House, assists about 2,700 foreign students and 2,300 visiting scholars annually. This year, he says, it’s been busier than usual, as students seek information, advice and reassurance.

One area of concern is whether they will be able to get back into the U.S. if they leave the country to visit their families. Some, full of “youthful confidence,” aren’t letting uncertainties alter their travel plans. Others, Goode says, “are distraught over the current situation; some are terrified.”

Unintended path
Goode didn’t set out with a career in foreign student services in mind. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan., and hoped to become a minister.

“I roomed with several international foreign exchange students during my college years, and only later realized how that experience led me into a career working with international students,” he says.

After college, he moved west to attend the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. In 1968 he got a summer job managing I-House’s Lode Star Program, through which international and American students would meet for a week of socializing, conversation and play in the Sierra before the start of the fall semester. At the end of the summer, he landed a job at the campus’s international student affairs office.

He remained there for three decades, working his way up the ladder until he became director of Services for International Students and Scholars in 1995.

In the spotlight
Last fall, Goode’s job changed, after it was learned that at least one of the suspected hijackers involved in the terrorist attacks had entered the country on a student visa. Within weeks, Congress passed and the president signed the U.S.A. Patriot Act. The new law bolsters the federal government’s law enforcement powers and, among other measures, gives investigative agencies more ability to obtain student information.

“University students, faculty and officials criticized the legislation,” says Goode, “because it questioned the traditional checks and balances that Americans have relied on to protect their civil liberties.”

Since the act’s introduction, he has fielded numerous press inquiries about the policy’s impact at Berkeley and has been quoted extensively in the media as an expert on international exchange policy. With characteristic modesty, he calls his new role as pundit “unexpected.”

Policy changes
In the current era of uncertainty for international students, Goode keeps a sharp eye on immigration policies and proposals coming down the pike.

Male students between the ages of 16 and 45 must now fill out a new supplemental application when applying for or renewing their visas. The forms seek information about religious and political affiliations, membership in professional, social and charitable organizations, and countries they have visited in the last 10 years.

A new State Department system for tracking foreign students studying in the U.S., passed in 1996 as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2003, he says.

Visa reform legislation — introduced in November by Senators Kennedy, Feinstein, and Kyl — calls for the federal government to gather additional information on students from countries identified as possible threats to the United States. The proposal, Goode says, would also require the campus, for the first time, to report any foreign students who do not show up on campus within 30 days of the time they enter the country.

Such changes, for Goode, speak to the delicate balance between individual liberties and national security currently in the spotlight.

“Although we support measures that will safeguard the university from individuals who pose a threat to our security,” he says, “we must be careful about protecting people’s civil liberties.”

And, Goode thinks, we need to keep the big picture in view.

“The current and additional security-driven visa and travel requirements, requiring both more information about the visa applicant and bio-metric data, may push students away from considering the U.S. as a place to pursue studies,” says Goode. “If that happens, it will be an undesirable consequence for higher education and the country. “


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