Committee works to retain international students

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

In order to meet the needs the of international students, the International Retention Committee is working to reach out to those students and find ways to make them feel comfortable at the University.

The committee was created a few years ago to retain the international student body and is made up of faculty, staff and students.

During International Education Week, which was held Nov. 14 through the 18, the retention committee held a meeting to discuss international students ideas on how the University could make their lives on campus easier.

Mike Kemp, professor of science and engineering and member of the committee, directed the meeting and asked international students their opinions of the University.

“This gives us a chance to get feed from international students,” Kemp said.

Some of the students at the meeting proposed having Fast Track offer more international cuisine to meet their dietary needs.

Kemp said international students help to increase diversity at the University and give more people an understanding of the world.

“People have the same needs and wants,” he said.

Colleen Qu, vice president of International Student Organization, said some people might be close-minded to international students cultures.

“When you listen to people you become more aware of what is going on in the world,” Qu said.

Don Robertson, vice president of student affairs and the chair of the committee, said the committee doesn’t want students to come to the University and not feel at home.

“Obviously if you’re going to recruit the students retention is important also, Robertson said. “We want to look at retention and see how well we are providing from international students perspective.”

Robertson said the committee has helped enhance life on campus and draw students in.

Racer Routes was created, thanks to international students proposals, because of the lack of public transportation on campus, he said.

“One of the reason we have a shuttle on campus is because of the needs of international students,” he said.

Robertson said the retention committee meets monthly to discuss new ideas presented by international students and see how the University can fulfill those needs.

He said the committee also looks for ways to get international students involved on campus and make the campus more international friendly.

“We look at what services should be offered during break time,” Robertson said. “Keeping the Wellness Center open and what dinning services should be available.”

Bill McKibben, associate director for International Studies, said if international students are not comfortable bringing their concerns to the committee they can personally discuss them with him.

“A lot of our students don’t wan to draw attention to themselves or speak in front of a large group of people,” McKibben said. “As their adviser, I think they feel free to talk with me about their concerns and issues and I bring those to the retention committee.”

McKibben said because of international student input the cross walk located on Chestnut Street was established.

He said the committee is now looking to establish a house specifically directed toward international student need.

“We’re looking at the possibilities of having an international residential college,” Mckibben said.

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