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Columbia U pressured administrator to favor foreign students: lawsuit

A Columbia University administrator has been jailed for not “bending the rules” to get international students through the doors of the school’s teachers college, she alleges in a lawsuit.

Yocasta Brens, who served as director of the Office of International Student Services for Columbia’s Teachers College, said fellow administrator Portia Williams asked her in the fall of 2019 to process immigration paperwork for prospective students “without the required paperwork,” according to court documents.

The students from South Africa lacked “evidence of funding and full-time commitment to a prescribed program as required by federal regulations,” Brens said in her lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against the school.

Months later, Teacher’s College Provost Stephanie J. Rowley allegedly accused Brens of being “inflexible” with federal requirements. Afterward, Brens filed a complaint under the school’s whistleblower policy.

International students, who often pay full tuition, can give colleges an important financial boost, said David Bloomfield, professor of education law at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Yocasta Brens
Yocasta Brens was Director of the Office of International Student Services for Columbia’s Teachers College.
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“International students are not only an economic engine for many universities, but also, according to many, a human rights issue,” he said, noting that they should be granted admission “within the law”.

The Teachers College asked Brens to certify international students as full-time students when they weren’t, to extend immigration documents for those who didn’t qualify, and to ignore poor English proficiency, she charges in her lawsuit.

dr Portia Williams
Brens accuses Dr. Portia Williams for asking her in the fall of 2019 to process immigration paperwork for prospective students “without the required paperwork.”

Brens was fired, she said in the legal papers. She is seeking unspecified damages because she was terminated “in retaliation” for her grievances and in violation of the school’s whistleblower policy.

“As standard practice, the Teachers College does not comment on litigation,” a spokesman said.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/21/columbia-u-pressured-administrator-to-favor-foreign-students-lawsuit/ Columbia U pressured administrator to favor foreign students: lawsuit

JACLYN DIAZ

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