Eight international students spoke Monday at the Joslin Senate Chamber, voicing their concerns about inclusion in student government and the broader Miami community.
“The language barrier is a huge social thing,” said Ting Lei, a senior from Ningxia, China, and one of the students who spoke. “In situations like group meetings, you can feel very alone. Americans don’t include us in conversation.”
The International Student Concerns Forum — ASG’s first — was organized by Meaghan Murtagh, secretary for advancement and alumni affairs, and Quentin McCorvey, secretary of diversity affairs, in the hopes of improving ASG’s relations with international students.
“It’s so hard to reach out to students, so we’re happy that even eight people were able to voice their concerns,” Murtagh said. “They helped us learn new ways to reach out to international students that we want to use in the future.”
Specifically, one suggested avenue for communication is WeChat, a Chinese multi-function social media app that is very popular among international students at Miami.
“WeChat is like our version of Facebook. Everybody’s on it. This could be a good way for ASG to reach the International community,” Tony Zheng, a senior from Zhejiang, China said.
This application is commonly used by international student clubs to reach out to students.
“We definitely want to make a WeChat ASG page to reach out to these students,” Murtagh said.
Other ideas for improving communication were shared at the forum. Sanchit Arvind, a senior from Dubai, believes that ASG should have a presence at the international student orientation.
“If organizations like ASG reached out to us at this orientation, it would be much easier for us to get an idea of what these clubs do and how we can get involved,” Arvind said.
After listening to the international student’s concerns, McCorvey aims to begin an outreach campaign.
“I plan on sending liaisons to all the different diverse organizations on campus to hear what they have to say and hear their concerns,” McCorvey said.“We want to bring that back to the senate floor.”
Some of the concerns voiced were also issues that domestic students face. Students complained about parking, the need for more study rooms and the price of food on campus.
“I think it’s important that we learn how similar we all are. It’s time to start teaching acceptance,” said Murtagh.
McCorvey also said that it’s vital both domestic and international students take the One Miami Campus Climate survey, which can be found on the MyMiami homepage.
The survey will help build administrators’ understanding of students’ feelings about the Miami community and the environment around them.