Improvements made for international students at CMU

Several improvements have been made to make international students' arrival to Central Michigan University next fall less troublesome than in the past.

Last September, Central Michigan Life published an article detailing the challenges international students face upon arriving at CMU. These problems include a lack of access to bedding materials, which resulted in many students sleeping without bedding for their first weekend here.

Many students who arrived after Friday, Aug. 17. were also were unable to access the Internet until the following Monday, and were therefore unable to contact their families.

Jake Mcpartlin, a Lincoln Park senior and a second-year peer adviser to international students last fall, estimated 15 to 20 of 31 international students in Herrig Hall slept without any bedding for at least their first night, and at least 15 of those 31 students were unable to attain an Internet connection that weekend.

Herrig Hall residence hall director John Johnstin said Residence Life has made several changes to their orientation next fall to make students' arrival on campus far less strenuous. Students will now have instant access to bedding as soon as they arrive, Johnstin said.

"When Residence Life hears about a concern or a problem, we quickly move to address it," Johnstin said. "Starting last semester, we had bedding available to all arriving students on request. This will continue next fall."

Tracy Nakajima, director of International Students and Scholar Services, said the bedding will come with a nominal fee, but it will only be large enough to cover the cost and is not designed to make a profit.

Johnstin also said Residence Life has worked with the Office of Information Technology to make readily available guest passes to students who arrive too late to set up a global ID, which is necessary to access the Internet on campus.

Guest passes were available last fall, but much of the residence hall staff was unaware of their availability.

Nakajima said the Office of International Affairs has also made improvements. Student drivers who volunteered to pick international students from the airports last fall fielded complaints that they rarely had sufficient information on the international student they were picking up.

Nakajima said the Office of International Affairs will now supply volunteer drivers with a "driver handbook" next fall, which will better inform drivers of who they're picking up and provide necessary procedures for a smoother process.

Additional processes will also be established to verify that drivers know which flight number the student has, when they will be arriving and where the student will be staying in Mount Pleasant.

The OIA has also worked with a hotel to allow students who were unable to secure a residence hall room to stay at the hotel at a reduced rate. Johnstin said Herrig Hall will also have guest rooms readily available.

Nakajima said her department has contacted other universities through conferences about how they accommodate international students.

"It's great to talk to colleagues," Nakajima said. "Many schools are facing these same issues."

Interim Vice Provost of Student Affairs Claudia Douglass said she has had multiple meetings with international students at her home about their arrival to campus and the subsequent orientation.

Douglass said in response to these meetings, the OIA has established an advisory committee made up of students. An additional welcome brochure has also been created.

According to the College of Graduate Studies, the university plans to increase the number of international students from the 575 enrolled in the previous fall semester.

"We are looking forward to more international students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. We welcome them all and do not foresee any problems at all," Douglass said. "There is always room for improvement. The spring semester picked up, and orientation went very well. We have made changes in conjunction with Residence Life. We don’t anticipate problems, but know many more students arrive in the fall than in the spring"


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