Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 08:21 pm est

Arrest of Nafis sparks debate over student visas

Posted on October 29, 2012 | by Andrew Karpan

A day after the arrest of Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, a Bangladesh in the Unites States on a student visa, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer requested a tighter evaluation of international students applying for visas to attend universities in the United States.

Nafis was arrested in New York for trying to detonate a fake car bomb in an attempt to blow up the Federal Reserve building on October 17. Though he has not yet been convicted, the incident has sparked a movement to squeeze the number

“This foiled attack must serve as a wakeup call – we need to shut down gaping loopholes allowing foreign nationals, some of whom may wish to do us harm, from entering the country through the student visa program,” Schumer said in a statement.

In co-sponsoring the Student Visa Integrity Act, Schumer cited a Congressional investigation that shut down a number of ‘sham universities’ that allowed undercover agents to obtain student visas while paying tuition without attending any classes.

However, though Nafis attended classes at Manhattan’s ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology, Schumer does not blame the university.

“There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Nafis’s school,” he said a press statement.

As of January 2012, 850,000 foreign students study in over 10,000 approved schools across the U.S. through the student visa program according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

NYU is one of the top universities attracting international students, and the Class of 2016 has a new record of 16 percent of its students coming from other countries, 130 in total.

“Among the best people in the world come to NYU…and that makes for a very dynamic academic environment,” said David Austell, Director of NYU’s Office for International Students and Scholars.

He believes the Immigration and Custom Enforcement system that grants student visas does not need to be changed. “Its already pretty strict,” he said. “Making the system even more strict would only mean more delays [for international students].”

NYU Sociology Professor Michael Gould-Wartofsky agreed.

“For far too long, the burden of national security has been placed on the shoulders of our international students, who, with few exceptions, are guilty of nothing more than wanting to get an education in US universities,” he said. “Instead of welcoming them, our elected officials treat them as dangerous criminals and potential terrorists from the moment they get off the plane.”

Gould-Wartofsky also spoke harshly of Schumer’s bill. “[It] would only tighten the clampdown, punish the innocent, and implement a costly new system to ‘better track students.’”

CAS Freshman Ollia Reykhart, who had to apply for a student visa from the US embassy in Moscow, Russia, agreed that the current process is complicated.

“It’s already long and intimidating,” she said. “If stricter rules would make it any more tormenting than waking up at 5 am to spend six hours just to wait in line in the embassy, I wouldn’t want to know what those rules are.”

Andrew Karpan is a staff writer. Email him at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.