International Students Find Themselves Short of Options

Andres Espinel, Student Reporter

The administration at Allen Community College has started to plan and implement some changes so that the college can keep moving at the pace that society and other colleges are moving. Not only has there been talk of changes or improvements to infrastructure, but also in the student life that the campus can offer Allen students.

Allen has twelve sports, and thanks to the different sports programs’ recruiting capacity, student-athletes are coming from different cities, states, or countries. Nevertheless, as students spend time in Iola, they may find the option of living off-campus more attractive, as they explore other housing options for reasons such as comfort, privacy, environment, and/or economy.

However, the Administration Board and the Department of Student Life consider it necessary and essential for the university that international students live on campus. So, on-campus housing will be mandatory for international student-athletes beginning in the fall of 2023. The Flame talked with different international students who lived on campus and off campus, Daniel, Jassim, Attila, Gabriel, and Santiago to know what they think about this new rule to the non-American students.

Interviewer: What do you think about the fact that the college is making international students live on campus?

Gabriel: “For me, that it’s a wrong decision because not all the students have enough money to pay for live on campus and for the ones who lives off campus it’s a big help for their pockets, sometimes some students don’t like the food of the cafeteria and when they’re living on campus they don’t have access to a kitchen or a good fridge for make their own food.”

Gabriel is not the only one that thinks that the board decision isn’t the right one. Santiago suggests that the new administration is creating new rules which may be affecting a large portion of Allen’s student population.

Santiago: “That is a weird and a negative aspect about this new president. I feel that they do not care about what the international students feels taking into account that approximately 60 or 70% of the students in Allen are internationals.”

A large population of the college’s student body comes from outside the county. However, living off campus would only be an option for non-international students. This leaves a portion of students without the option to choose where they would like to live.

Interviewer: Do you think that is better for an international student live on or off campus? Why?

Jassim: “Whether living on or off campus is better for international students may depend on individual preferences, needs, and circumstances. On-campus housing may provide some advantages, such as proximity to classes, dining options, and social events, as well as more structured and supervised living arrangements. Off-campus housing may offer more flexibility, privacy, and exposure to the local community, but may also require more effort and responsibility in terms of finding and managing the accommodation, dealing with transportation, and navigating cultural differences.”

Attila: “I think it’s better live off campus for all the facilities that you can have out of the college living by yourself.”

Seeing that several international students would prefer to live off-campus and the new policy would not allow them, The Flame asked them how they felt about it.

Interviewer: As an international student, how do feel about not having the opportunity to choose where you live?

Daniel: “I feel that I am not given the same value because of my nationality.”

Attila: “It is not good; students should have their own rights and don’t need to starve every night because they are put in dorms without a kitchen.”

But why do many students prefer to live off campus? Why do international students mention so much dislike for the dorms offered by Allen? When a student decides to attend college, they should be clear about where they are going; digital platforms allow people to get a virtual sense of what the institution is like if they are unable to visit in person.

Interviewer: Do you think that the college presents in a clear way what the dorms are like?

Santiago: “No, when I come here, I found that the dorms were too different.”

Jassim: “It depends on the college and the communication channels they use to inform students. Some colleges provide detailed descriptions, photos, and virtual tours of their dorms on their websites, while others may only offer general information or require students to visit the campus to see the dorms in. Students can also ask questions and request more information from the college housing office, current residents, or online forums and groups.”

Should student input should be considered in making changes that may affect the lifestyle of those who attend and live on campus? This raises more questions, such as: Why make it mandatory for international students to live on campus? Was their opinion taken into consideration? Would it be fair to the students? Does this new measure also include an increase in the value of dormitories?

The current value does not seem to meet the expectations of the students.

Daniel: “Is not fair the price with what the college is offering because the buildings are old, and the meals aren’t good for the price.”

Attila: “The price is quite pricey, but it is okay.”

This series of changes they are planning for the new academic year are focused on international students, to recruit and have people on campus who are comfortable and feel comfortable with what Allen has to offer. But at what cost?