DSU student group offers solution about international concernsSecond in a series One thing about finding a voice is knowing what to do with it.
By: Christinia Crippes, The Dickinson Press
Second in a series
DICKINSON - One thing about finding a voice is knowing what to do with it.
The dozen or so Dickinson State University students who raised concerns about the university’s global awareness initiative have that part figured out too.
Cliché or not, these students realize they would be part of the problem if they didn’t become part of the solution. With that in mind, these juniors and seniors are putting forth some ideas to help address concerns they have with the international student population on campus.
The Dickinson Press recently sat down with the group of students to hear their concerns.
After putting together a list of concerns, the group met with Hal Haynes, DSU’s vice president for student development. Haynes took the list to the president’s cabinet. He suggested, in the meantime, the students work to offer solutions to the problems as well.
For them, it boils down to just a few things.
“The first one we said was education all around,” DSU student Jami Arnold said. “Educate the people of the community, the people of the university, the international students on everything, not only different cultures and customs, but also where the money goes, where it comes from, how much is being spent, what classroom behavior should be like, what they’re doing for the university, what they’re doing for the community, just education on every level about this situation.”
She said education should be all encompassing, including international and domestic students, as well as faculty, staff and the community.
Arnold said international students need to learn North Dakota customs and mannerisms, while students from the United States need to learn about foreign cultures.
“Professors need to learn to teach multicultural classrooms,” Arnold said. “It’s just an educational process all around that everybody is lacking and needs to catch up on.”
Mixing it up
Arnold said the second solution is to continue marketing the university as a regional one.
“It just seems like things have changed,” Arnold said.
DSU student Jill King said part of that is looking at recruiting other types of diverse students, including people in single-parent homes, older-than-average students and handicapped people.
“I just think integration is the key,” DSU student Tom Arnold said. “It doesn’t matter if the international student group gets bigger or smaller. I think the main key is to, if we’re shooting for world diversity, we need to integrate more between the cultures, and there needs to be some education in order for that to happen.”
Tom Arnold said it seems like people expect the students from various cultures to intermingle without offering any sort of plan for the groups to mix.
“It’s again, a language barrier,” he said. “I’d be more willing to talk with someone if I understood them quite a bit, whereas if there’s a language barrier, and there’s not a good understanding, it’s going to be a little more difficult.”
DSU student Adam Minor said he’s a social person who’s willing to talk with anyone who’s willing to talk with him. But the international students don’t make an effort to reach outside of their own groups.
“There are certain groups that do intermingle with Americans a lot more, like the Bahamians and the Nepalese,” DSU student Kyle Michels said. “Then, there’s also the groups that just stick to themselves.”
The Bahamians’ native language is a dialect of English, and many Nepalese are required to learn English from early in their academic careers.
“Another thing we talked about is DSU has become a global university, which you know we’re living in a global world, we need to realize that,” Jami Arnold said. “We also need to realize that DSU is a hometown college. A lot of people come to DSU because it’s close to home, because it’s like a family, and they need to keep appealing to those too.”
She said the students have heard the argument that out-migration continues to be a problem, which means there is a smaller pool of potential students to attract.
“It seems like an effort could be made, maybe, to stretch out farther to reach out for other regional students, maybe a little bit farther than they recruit right now,” Tom Arnold said. “Part of our diversity is to show the international students what we are in this region.”
The students also felt because there are many international students, there would not be the alumni base to give back to the community.
“If you have some kind of ties, whether it’s athletics or some kind of club or organization, or just because you earned your degree from here, you’re going to have more ties than just the students who come for a just a year or a semester,” Jami Arnold said.
“We’re not asking that they get treated like dirt; we just want everybody to be treated fairly, given the same opportunities to do everything, whether it be scholarships or rules in the residence halls,” Jami Arnold said.
While it’s not strictly a solution, the group feels the number of students from each of the 30-plus countries should be more balanced. Instead of overwhelmingly relying on China, the group feels there should be more even numbers.
The unofficial enrollment numbers count 172 Chinese students, with the two next highest international groups being 44 Mongolian students and 35 Canadian students. For now, though, the group is waiting for someone to help them with their cause.
When the president’s cabinet heard the students’ concerns, it directed them back to the Student Senate. The Student Senate has received the list of concerns and directed it to an inquiry and research committee, although the body has not yet met with the group.
The group believes the Student Senate will take those concerns back to the president’s cabinet, where it hopes the administration will ultimately address those issues.
“We’ve just got to hope that it’s an issue that keeps being brought up,” DSU student Kevin Poswilko said.