On Saturday morning the authors were ousted from an apparently secretive meeting for students at a visa mill in Falls Church, Va., a D.C. suburb.
We (a father-and-son team) were sitting quietly at the edge of the room when a security guard told us to leave; he then followed us down in the elevator, and watched as we left the building. We thought that this might happen and left quietly.
Doing the ousting was the American College of Commerce & Technology (ACCT), which will be closed by the Virginia state government on December 30. All, or nearly all, the students have F-1 visas.
ACCT lost its license because the state found that it was not qualified to be a university, as we reported earlier. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which licenses schools to issue the paper that leads to the F-1 visas, knew about the school's (totally justified) problems with the state, but had nothing to do with the closure.
Though the school has been forbidden by the state to take on new students since May 1, as of December 4, DHS still includes ACCT on its list of licensed schools. By the way, if you mistakenly search for the American College of Commerce and Technology there is no listing; the ampersand is key.
The meeting we were kicked out of was being held in a classroom at ACCT, and was to be conducted by a representative of another school — the University of the Potomac. ACCT had announced its demise to its students and encouraged them to apply to the other school. Such an action would keep the students' F-1 visas alive. Both are for-profit schools; University of the Potomac is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accreditor, but ACCT is not.
The meeting had not started and we had said nothing in the room; we were sitting off to one side when the guard came up to us and told us to leave. We had no interaction with anyone in the room, though we had brief conversations with some of the students earlier in the hallway.
The guard, probably employed by the property management company, was presumably acting on instructions of ACCT, rather than the University of the Potomac. His English was not very good, and he was speaking softly, but we got the message, and left when asked. (It is a privately owned building.) There was no physical contact.
Though such closures rarely happen, when they do, the F-1 students have 60 days to find another institution that will accept them — and their tuition payments — or return to their homelands. The University of the Potomac had agreed to consider applications from the ACCT students; it is not clear how many will apply or how many will be accepted. There were about 40 students in the room when we were ushered out. We assume that the meeting started shortly afterwards.
The University of the Potomac is a small for-profit entity that has a campus in nearby Vienna, Va., and another in Washington, D.C. It worked out an arrangement with the dying ACCT to finish teaching the then-active ACCT students (a "teach-out"), and to take on at least some of them on a continuing basis.
We had seen an email letter to students from the new president of ACCT, who has been in office for two or three weeks, announcing both the December 30 closing of the school (with no hint as to why) and the meeting with University of the Potomac recruiters.
One wonders if Dr. Andrea Diese, who signed the letter, will put on her resume that she was a college president for less than a month. One wonders about the reaction of the clerk in the unemployment office when the clerk sees an application for benefits, if there is one, filed by an ex college president.
More substantively, one also wonders why DHS continues to tolerate these fourth-rate institutions, which we described at some length in a CIS report entitled "The Dregs of Higher Education Damage Our Immigration System".