Williston State College ordered to stop workers programBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The new chancellor of North Dakota's university system has ordered Williston State College to stop housing foreign workers at the school as part of a program meant to fill temporary jobs.
By: Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The new chancellor of North Dakota's university system has ordered Williston State College to stop housing foreign workers at the school as part of a program meant to fill temporary jobs.
Businesses in the western North Dakota oil boom town have been relying on the foreign exchange students to fill jobs in the fast-food, hotel and other service industries.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Chancellor Hamid Shirvani said housing foreign workers at the college “raises legitimate safety and security concerns.”
“Housing foreign workers was not intended when the Legislature authorized bonds or appropriated public funds to build, maintain and operate the facilities,” Shirvani, who took over as chancellor in July, wrote in the letter to Ray Nadolny, the president of Williston State College.
Nadolny said Wednesday that the school's contract with Maryland-based United Work and Travel to house the workers ends this month and will not be renewed.
“Concerns were raised that we were stepping beyond our scope,” Nadolny said
The college housed about 200 workers annually, or about 64 every four months, Nadolny said. The workers were foreign college students who came to the U.S. under an international cultural exchange program administered by the U.S. State Department.
The students paid about $100 per week to live in a temporary housing facility on campus and had access to the college's food service and recreational facilities. The students were given one hour of college credit for working but never had to attend regular classes at the school, Nadolny said.
United Work and Travel President Kasey Simon said his company has sent hundreds of workers from dozens of countries to North Dakota for the past four years.
More than 100,000 foreign college students come to the U.S. each year on under the so-called J-1 visa program, which is designed to allow foreign students to fill seasonal or temporary jobs such as in ski- or beach resort towns.
Simon said it was the company's decision to pull the temporary job placement program.
“We made the decision that J-1 placements were not seasonal or temporary in North Dakota,” Simon said.