Leaders of the Multicultural and International Student Club brought up issues relating to the lack of support for international students during the New Student Orientation Program during Monday’s Student Government Association meeting.
MISC president and Spectator photographer Yasmine Akki, BC ’19, and vice president Emily Miller, BC ’19, said that “third culture kids”—students who in this case hold U. S. citizenship but were raised in another nation—have not received adequate support during NSOP and the International Student Orientation Program due to their citizenship status, making it more difficult to adjust to life at Barnard or in the United States.
As a French national with three passports, including a U.S. passport, Akki said that she understands the challenges facing these students.
“When I was accepted at Barnard, I felt like I kind of needed a pre-orientation or some time before the big immersion into orientation and I reached out to ISOP, making sure that I was considered an international student despite having the American passport,” she said.
Although Akki was accepted into ISOP and chose to attend, this has not always been possible for other students in similar situations.
Current application forms which ask for citizenship status fail to capture the situation of these “third culture kids,” designating them U.S. citizens regardless of whether or not they have spent time in the country, complicating their arrival at Barnard and Columbia and potentially barring them from being able to participate in ISOP.
Associate Dean for International and Intercultural Student Programs Wendy Garay said that for the most part the Common Application has not given space for these intersecting identities, and that a change in how the Office of Admissions approaches multicultural students is a necessity.
“To be fair to admissions, some of it has to do with a bit of a dated system in applications, so we’re trying to add fields that perhaps didn’t exist or were not necessarily thought of prior to the last few years,” she said. “We have some technology issues to work out and to work around so we need to get creative about how we pull that information outside of just the Common App.”
MISC also requested funding to support five off-campus events this semester, which it hopes will provide a greater sense of community for its members outside of its current biweekly meetings. Miller asked SGA’s transfer, international, and commuter students interests committee for support in hosting these events.
Surbhi Lohia, BC ’19, junior class vice president, and one of the four TICSI committee members, said that the group has additional funding to offer MISC.
“TICSI has only traditionally done one event in the first semester ... so this semester we have a good amount of our budget left,” she said. “I would love to reach out to you with the rest of our chairs and really plan something cool we could do this semester,” she said.