DSU seeks input for International Student Task Force
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
Douglas College international students gathered in the lounge of the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) on October 24 to participate in a forum discussing the needs of international post-secondary students. The event was held in conjunction with the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) Task Force on the Needs of International Students.
The open house, which included food, door prizes, and engaging discussion, was open to all international students in the Douglas College community. Event organizers hailed it as a huge success.
Keiko Nariya, a DSU member-at-large and chief organizer of the international student open house, said that the turnout was key in ensuring the success of the event.
“It was very successful, we had over 80 international students [who] participated,” said Nariya. “The turnout was awesome thanks to all the volunteers of more than 25 international students who helped us promote and organize the event.”
Participants were grouped based on common language so that they could communicate with each other in a familiar language. DSU organizers suggested that this method would prove to be less intimidating with a student population who may, at first, feel overwhelmed by having such a conversation in a language other than their respective first languages.
While participants were free to discuss any topic related to being an international student at Douglas College, dominant themes quickly emerged from the small group discussions, including increasing tuition fees for international students, language barriers, and limited services offered to students from overseas.
“Though each group had different choices of topics, almost all language groups chose to talk about tuition fees as a first priority in their discussion, according to the volunteers who facilitated conversation. I think it is because of students’ concern [that] tuition fee keeps going up annually,” said Nariya.
Nariya argues that increasing services to international students and providing greater advocacy for their needs on issues such as tuition fees and visa requirements should be a priority for Douglas College administrators. She believes that international students are intimidated to raise concerns with college administrators due to language and cultural barriers.
“International students at Douglas College make up more than 10 per cent of all Douglas College students,” said Nariya. “So it was extremely important that we approach them to let them share their opinions and concerns so that we can try making better changes for them.”
The opinions and concerns raised by international students will be compiled by the Douglas Students’ Union and a formal report is expected around March 2014. The report will then be presented to Douglas College administrators and the Board of Governors, as well as make up a portion of a provincial report sanctioned by the Canadian Federation of Students through the Task Force on the Needs of International Students.