In a small International Student Policy Panel, speakers set out to identify what the ideal student interaction looks like in a discussion Wednesday night in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Georgian Room.
The panel brought together four students representing different international organizations on campus, representatives from the IU Police Department and Office of International Services to address the well-being of international students on the IU campus.
Qiuyao Wei, a sophomore international student from China, shared her own freshman year experience as part of the panel.
Wei was not granted the same ability as domestic students were in the selection process of choosing a roommate while living in the residence halls.
“When international students come here from really far away and from their home, they want to feel confident,” Wei said. “They want to feel that they’re noticed, that they’re significant and the fact that the dorms didn’t even do that, it just really makes me feel like they’re not putting much focus on us.”
Wei said she felt IU, a university proud of its percentage of international students, had been contradicting itself in such policies, specifically focused on living for freshman students.
Malvin Subianto of the Indonesian Student Association, shared a story of a friend who felt grading in one of her writing classes had been biased based on her status as an international student.
He also noted the divide between international students and domestic students, expressing a desire to bridge the large gap.
“Reality check, the reason why international students are sent is to immerse in the cultural diversity and not to stick with the same people,” Subianto said.
Rendy Schrader, director of the Office of International Services, sat on the panel and addressed such concerns.
“It’s outrageous that you would experience any kind of discrimination,” Schrader told the students.
She presented two new housing initiatives one setting aside 10 percent of housing across campus for international students, who are often the last to register for housing, and another allowing a new check box option for domestic students to decide if they would like to be placed with an international student as their roommate.
Schrader also said one of her pet peeves is international students are given little cross-cultural training.
“I think that’s the University’s fault,” Schrader said. “I think that we’re asking international students to come way further in a conversation than we’ve ever either expected or trained Americans to do and we need to be better about that.”
IUPD Deputy Chief Doug Johnson also sat on Wednesday evening’s panel to provide information on how the department can work with the international community in the future.
“We wanted to introduce the IU police to everybody in the room,” Johnson said. “And let you know that we’re here for all of our students, doesn’t matter if they’re from the United States originally or wherever they come from.”
Sophomore John McHugh, who helped organize the event with a new international outreach initiative called Project Pengyou, said the event’s main purpose was to brainstorm ways to build better relationships within the international community.
“This project’s goal,” McHugh said. “Is to really bring together Americans who are either interested in learning about others or are interested in traveling abroad with anyone else who is interested in building the bridges necessary to create a better campus.”