Restorative Justice Seeks to Educate on the Gap Between International and Domestic Students on DePauw’s Campus


Almost half of domestic students recently interviewed by a DePauw University campus conflict and mediation group reported that they have no international student friends.

The group, Restorative Justice club, lead by senior interns Bridget Donnelly and Hannah Houpt, surveyed domestic students who then reported having few social interactions with international students.

Donnelly said, “Right now the burden is currently on the international students to educate domestic students and integrate into domestic student culture.” Donnelly explains that Restorative Justice is making efforts to start the dialogue with domestic students rather than relying on international students to inform the larger student body of their experiences.

Donnelly and Houpt interviewed a handful of international students and surveyed about 60 across grades in order to learn more about their relationships with one another.

According to Donnelly, “Because Restorative Justice is focused on improving relationships and repairing harm, the club decided that it was important to not only delve into international student narratives, but also gain insight into how the greater DePauw community perceived the identified disconnect.”

The results from the first round of domestic student surveys showed that “almost half of our participants (44 percent) said that they had zero international student friends,” according to Houpt. The term “friend” being defined as someone you hang out with once in a while.

Donnelly agreed, adding that while about half of the domestic students surveyed did not have international friends, they noticed that the ones who did and viewed the relationships positively were often first-year students. Upperclassmen often did not agree that they have a good relationship with international students.

Throughout the second round of surveys, Houpt said, “14 out of 19 people said they knew international students from Greek life. It’s interesting because only a small percentage of international students are involved in Greek life so this excludes a lot of people.”

Junior My Le noticed this divide when she came to DePauw as well. According to Le, the tension does not come from cultural differences, but rather a lack of effort and understanding on the domestic students’ parts.

Donnelly and Houpt agree and also connected their surveys with DePauw’s study abroad program. Donnelly said,“The majority of people say they studied abroad or want to study abroad because they think it’s important to expose themselves to other cultures, but at the same time, these same people say they have no international student friends. Few people are taking the time to learn about other cultures from the people right in front of them.”

Donnelly further explained, “There are people from all over the world here, and if they truly value exposure to other cultures and think that it's important that they are more introspective and realize that there are people right next to them that have a lot to offer.”

With the information gathered, Donnelly and Houpt hope that DePauw will put an emphasis on the integration process between international and domestic students.

Donnelly said, “Each group represents an important part of the DePauw family, so putting in more effort into forging a strong(er) connection between the two would lead to a more cohesive campus.”