New int’l student board provides representation

U admins hope the board will address student needs.

Raj Chaduvula

Students with global roots currently represent about one in eight University of Minnesota Twin Cities enrollees — but some say they haven’t always had corresponding on-campus representation.
 
 
Starting this fall, international students will have an outlet to relay their issues to administrators with the creation of a 10-person International Student Advisory Board.
 
 
Currently, the University has several offices that service international students but don’t have a consistent way of collaborating with global student groups.
 
 
The board could help connect the existing gap in communication between University administration and the international student body, said Janet Mwanyika, a member of the Minnesota Student Association’s executive board who hails from Tanzania. 
 
 
Mwanyika said international students don’t have a direct resource for questions about financial aid, scholarships and freshman seminars. 
 
 
“A board made up of international students sitting at one table discussing the issues regarding international students can really help,” she said.
 
 
A committee from the International Student and Scholar Services and the Office of Student Affairs has reached out to international student groups to find what they would want from a new advisory board, and they will soon begin to accept nominations for members, said ISSS Assistant Dean Barbara Kappler.
 
 
The board will also help promote the visibility of the international student community on campus, Mwanyika said. 
 
 
The Minnesota International Student Association has also advocated for international students at the University for nearly 60 years, said its president Keerthana Shankar.
 
 
She said she hopes a MISA member will be able to serve on the advisory board when it debuts later this year.
 
 
As international student population increases yearly, so has the need for more representation, said Kappler.
 
 
“We want to ask, ‘What can we do differently or better for the international student experience?’” Kappler said.