International student orientation change may not fly


Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin, [email protected]

International students and their counterparts at the University of Iowa currently attend separate orientations, but maybe not for long.

The BLOC Party is aiming to integrate international- and domestic-student orientations when it takes over the student government in the next academic year, despite some school officials claiming it is impossible.

The group, who won this year’s UI Student Government elections, listed integrating international- and domestic-student orientation programs as part of its platform during the campaign.

However some school officials, including Lee Seedorff, the senior associate director of the International Students & Scholar Services, have said they’re skeptical about the proposal.

“It’s always a good thing to get student input on something like this, but I will add that we’ve already looked at that along with the main orientation services, and unfortunately, there are just reasons it won’t work to combine the two groups,” Seedorff said. “Domestic students almost entirely are coming in for the summer, while international students are coming in a week before the semester starts.”

Seedorff said the scholoars’ office is pushing for more international students to be involved with the OnIowa program as a way to merge them with their domestic peers.

“That [OnIowa] is really the perfect opportunity for students to get involved and mixing in with domestic students, and for domestic students, too, to get a chance to meet the international students as well, so that is the main focus that we have right now,” she said. “And certainly we would like to hear from other student groups.”

Rachel Zuckerman, the UISG president-elect, said she knows the logistical difficulties that come with the party’s platform.

“Realistically, there’s just no way we can have them perfectly integrated because domestic students have orientation all throughout the summer and international students can’t just fly by for a week and fly home,” she said. “So what it’s going to look like is international-student orientation is going to be like how it is, which is before school starts, and we [BLOC] are asking ourselves how can we bring domestic students into that.”

Among the ideas she said are being discussed is to have a student-leadership panel where domestic students will be able to share their experiences with their international counterparts.

Additionally, Zuckerman said, a plan that is already in motion is to have domestic students give their international peers campus tours.

RELATED: BLOC Party wins UISG election

“It’s just a really informal way of getting people to know each other, walking around together while getting to know campus,” she said. “So those are two things we [BLOC] hope to work on.”

Tina Arthur, the director of Orientation Services, said her staff recognizes that orientation can help integrate students from different backgrounds.

Complexities with orientation timing, such as international student’s arrival on campus, makes the integration of both the orientations of local and domestic students more difficult, she said.

“Certainly it is a problem that [International Students & Scholars] and Orientation Services has identified and are working to address. We want to integrate these populations, certainty it’s something we are working towards,” she said. “I certainty want to work with however we can work with to help address the problem, but orientation can’t be the only thing we do because it’s not realistic from the timing of when the international students arrive.”

UI junior Astrid Montuclard said international students are at a disadvantaged when it comes to their orientation because international students register a week before the start of classes, unlike their American counterparts, who register over the summer and fill up the most-wanted spots, before international students get a chance.

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