International students push for more inclusion

1199

 International students at DePauw University say they feel forgotten following changes to Greek recruitment dates early this semester.

“It’s almost like CLCD ( Campus Living and Campus Development) is not trying hard enough to create an equal opportunity to everyone,” said Yuka Kitajima, a senior member of Alpha Chi Omega from Japan.

Kitajima, as well as other international students, feel as though their opinions were not addressed in the discussion regarding recruitment dates, and that CLCD failed to take their travel restrictions into account.  

Following an Aug. 19 announcement, recruitment will now take place before the first week of the spring semester from Thursday, Jan. 26 to Sunday, Jan. 29. It previously took place the weekend after classes started.

“Even if I come back a little early, I’ll be jet lagged, we have like an eight hour difference, and the flight will be like a 30 hour trip,”said Malak Daher, a first-year from Morocco. “It’s going to be long and we need that rest.Even if we came a week early it’s still going to be hectic for us coming from flight to rush.”

In addition to the lack of consultation on the date change, some international students said they think the changed schedule was posted too late when announced on Aug. 19. Many international students, including Malak, said they booked their flights far in advance to save money. As of now, Malak will not be able to participate in rush unless she buys a new plane ticket.

Campus Living and Development Coordinator, Nick Stepaniak, explained that the CLCD did the best they could given the restrictions they faced.

“It takes time to get the executive board and council approval. We got it out as quickly as we could have with the changes,” said Stepaniak, while also acknowledging that he was not sure if they articulated the change well to first-years. Stepaniak also said he was aware plane tickets were probably purchased up to a year in advance by some international students.

The CLCD has reassured students that there will be an alternative recruitment; however, they are still trying to figure out what the model or process will look like. Stepaniak said that CLCD wants to assure all students that they are doing their best to make sure anyone who wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.

“It [alternative rush] looks a bit different for everyone, we’re being very flexible with it. We hope a majority of people can go through recruitment,” Stepaniak said.

Malak believes alternative recruitment will not provide the same experience as participating on the designated days.

If we have this alternative we aren’t going to be able to experience rush like other people will,” Malak said. “All I know is I really want to experience rush and if I like it then I might join, but if I don’t even experience it, then that’s not going to happen for me.”

After going through the recruitment process, Kitajima admits that alternative rush is a different experience and depends a lot on networking. “I feel like you also need to kind of know people when doing alternative rush, so in that sense the feeling I think is different,” she said.

Interfraternity Council (IFC) President, senior Luke Hartline, said there is underrepresentation of international students and other minorities as well in the Greek system, and Greek diversity has recently been a topic of discussion. Hartline reiterated that diversity is an important factor in Greek life because it brings multiple different beliefs, values, and ideas, and that the Iis discussing ways to bridge the gap between the large caucasian community and minority populations at DePauw University.

Despite the move towards inclusion from IFC and Greek Life, Malak says this is only one example of exclusion that international students face on campus. She offered fall break as another example of lack of accommodations, or care for international students.

Athletes were given meal swipes for the week, however international students were responsible for the expenses of their own food. “If you're staying, you have to use flex or community dollars, but for us international students, we don’t have any other choice but to stay because we can’t really travel, because a week is the travel time it takes me to go home and come back,” said Malak.  

Kitajima explained that the sense of division between international students and other students on campus is not new, and something she has always experienced throughout her four years at DePauw.

I think it’s the DePauw community in general, if an international students were to do something not great they'd be like ‘oh she's an international student, so that's why’ before doubting their personality in general, whereas if it was a music student or a white domestic student they'd be like ‘oh maybe he's having a rough day’,” Kitajima said.

Despite feelings of isolation, Kitajima clarifies that she has found a community she feels comfortable within, and hopes other students get to have that feeling as well. She said, “I'm better because the people around me push me to be the best version of myself everyday."