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Giving intl. students a voice

Opinion+columnist+Ahsan+Khan+discusses+enrollment+numbers+of+international+students%2C+and+how+actively+giving+them+a+voice+would+increase+numbers.
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Giving intl. students a voice

Opinion columnist Ahsan Khan discusses enrollment numbers of international students, and how actively giving them a voice would increase numbers.

Opinion columnist Ahsan Khan discusses enrollment numbers of international students, and how actively giving them a voice would increase numbers.

PEXELS

Opinion columnist Ahsan Khan discusses enrollment numbers of international students, and how actively giving them a voice would increase numbers.

PEXELS

PEXELS

Opinion columnist Ahsan Khan discusses enrollment numbers of international students, and how actively giving them a voice would increase numbers.

ASHAN KHAN, Opinion Columnist

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Having worked with admissions for most of my academic career, the recurring theme I have seen in attracting students is giving them a voice. Most schools these days market themselves as to how they are the right fit for the student and how they can cater to the students’ individual needs. With regards to domestic students, this model works and will continue to do so. The issue is the enrollment of international students. 

My time at UNI has been quite fruitful and has given me opportunities that would be hard to come by had I chosen to go to another school. However, everyone has a different personality and engaging all those different personalities to take part in the campus environment can be a tough task. International students cross borders and often travel thousands of miles to be in an alien country. Along with their hopes and dreams, they also bring their insecurities. My time with international admissions at UNI has helped me point out that the number one insecurity international students have is how to fit in. College can be a competitive environment and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

From my perspective as an international student, we place the burden of fitting in on the international students by asking them to venture out of their comfort zone and seek opportunities. For a person who is already insecure about fitting in, to further ask them to venture out of their comfort zone is a tough thing to ask. Having been part of international student groups, we do an extensive job of integrating incoming students into the American college environment, but there is still room for improvement.

Firstly, there is minimal representation of international students in Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG), fraternities, sororities, student organizations and all sports teams. Greek life organizations tend to be more inclusive towards domestic students, and in my time here I have not seen them make any active attempts to recruit international students. This is an issue because I can count the number of international students who are a part of Greek life with my hands. Sororities and fraternities should make active attempts to recruit more international students, as this will only lead to good initiatives and diverse opinions about improving Greek life.

NISG is generally seen as a voice for all students, and therefore, there should be a quota for international student senators who can help highlight important problems of their respective departments and offer solutions.

One will always witness international students flock to an organization that has the ‘international’ tag next to it. A prime example of this is a recently started organization called ‘International Students in Business (ISB).’ There are already several student organizations in the business college, so why is it necessary to make a separate one for international students just so they can be included? Why is there no effort to recruit international students to existing organizations so that their opinion is on the same platform as domestic students?

Perhaps the aims for ISB are different from other business-related student organizations, but those aims can be integrated as such that there is more inclusivity for international students in existing organizations. Sports platforms are tricky because colleges recruit at the high school level, but would it not help overall enrollment if international students were given an opportunity to try out for these teams? This would also help teams tap into an overseas talent which is nothing but a win for sports programs.

Secondly, there is also the problem of a stable future. International students face many hurdles in establishing a future for them in any country because there are immigration and visa policies to be met. I have personally witnessed many international students dodge career fairs because the organizations invited have policies of hiring domestic students or citizens. Invitations need to be extended to organizations that actively hire international students and help them navigate around these immigration and visa policies.

Lastly, in the conversation about diversity, international students are always overlooked. After talking to international students in positions of leadership, this is a problem many have felt. Last year when students were campaigning for NISG offices, a member of International Student Promoters asked the students running, “why do you guys only care about us while campaigning, but as soon as you take positions you forget about us?” The question was met with agreement from all members present and was eventually dodged. International students are a big part of the diversity on this campus and should be taken into account when it comes to all platforms about diversity and inclusion.

In conclusion, relating back to giving students a voice, these small measures give international students a feeling of inclusion and a platform to voice their opinions. Fitting in is not hard when both parties make a genuine effort.  Furthermore, these attempts at inclusion can be highlighted in the international students’ recruitment process which would help raise international student admissions.

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Giving intl. students a voice