The University of Iowa

Working to welcome international students

September 12th, 2014

From The Daily Iowan

The University of Iowa Graduate and Professional Student Government will implement the International Student Advisory Board, a panel designed to make international students feel welcome on campus.

The board will be run in collaboration with the UI Student Government. The board is still in its early stages, but GPSG President Alyssa Billmeyer said the group hopes it will eventually encourage collaboration among international and domestic students.

“International students will be able to integrate with domestic students and, hopefully, feel that their time at the University of Iowa has been well-spent,” she said.

The international board aims to advise UI administrators, student governments, and relevant campus constituencies on practices, polices, and programs in order to better enhance the experiences of international students on campus.

“The main reason for establishing [the board] was … to give students a common organization in which they can discuss ideas and offer constructive criticism, as well as give suggestions and recommendations,” GPSG Vice President Jon Scholte said.

The board is expected to start as soon as a committee is formed. Twelve students on the executive board will be appointed to the committee, with at least a third of them being graduate or professional students.

Applications for the board will be available to all students in order to create a diverse panel consisting of undergraduate, graduate, professional, international, and domestic students.

There will also be five liaison members representing different programs and divisions of the UI.

These members will be in charge of overseeing the application process, which will occur during the spring semester. The liaison members will come from International Programs, the Division of Student Life, and the Chief of Diversity Office.

According to fall 2013 statistics, there were 3,747 international students on campus — approximately 12 percent of the student population.

At the UI, 60 percent of international students are undergraduates, 21 percent are graduate students, and 6 percent are professional students.

“Having a diverse student population benefits both our international and domestic students,” said Downing Thomas, the dean of UI International Programs.

The committee members will make up three subcommittees, representing student life and housing, communications and awareness, and academics and departmental integration.

Thomas said he is pleased to see UISG and the grad-student organization working to break down barriers among international and domestic students.

“That student government is taking steps to help the community embrace our growing international student population is a very positive development,” he said. “That student government is also devoting time and effort to international student welfare and integration is great.”