Kent State's Office of Global Education Joins #YouAreWelcomeHere Campaign to Support International Students
The staff of the Office of Global Education is joining other international offices at numerous colleges and universities across the United States in the #YouAreWelcomeHere social media campaign to make both prospective and current students feel welcome at Kent State University despite the recent political rhetoric. By supporting the campaign, the Office is championing the university's "longstanding commitment to be a welcoming, inclusive environment where all feel at home" as stated in President Warren's recent message to members of the Kent State Community following the issuance of the recent well-publicized executive order invoking a travel ban affecting seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The message continues to say that our "commitment does not change as political or social movements change. Our values define who we are and what we stand for in a community that aspires to advance the creativity and belief in the invaluable benefits of an increasingly global society."
The #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign originally caught the attention of the Office’s Director of International Recruitment and Admissions, Salma Benhaida, late last year. She saw the campaign as a way to send prospective international students a positive, inclusive message that would encourage them to study in the United States and attend Kent State while offsetting some of the negative fallout from last year’s presidential campaign. The events of recent weeks have given an added poignancy to the message. “At Kent State, we are all inclusive and we really focus on the experience of our students,” explains Benhaida, “Many of our (international) students express that Kent State has become a second home to them and we want them to continue to feel safe, secure and welcome here. Supporting the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign is just one of many things we are doing right now to support and assist our international students at this troubling time.”
Additional support by the Office was provided to those international students directly affected by the recent travel ban during a Support Session conducted at the Kiva on Tuesday, January 31. Approximately 80 students attended the session. A panel composed of Provost, Todd Diacon, Associate University Counsel, Mike Pfahl, Assistant Provost, Marcello Fantoni, Director of International Student and Scholar Service, Desnee Stevens and Salma Benhaida provided helpful information and advice about the students’ status and travel options. Afterwards, the panel fielded numerous questions from the audience.
“Our (international) students expressed that they were experiencing a sense of concern, anxiety and even disenfranchisement over the executive order,” explains Fantoni. “The Support Session gave us the opportunity to tell them that the university stands ready to assist them in every way it can.”
In response to the travel ban, the Office has also extended its walk-in advising hours for those students who could benefit from additional legal and travel advice and assistance, as well as emotional support. It has also posted a set of Frequently Asked Questions about the Executive Order and its consequences.
The staff of the Office of Global Education also encourages other members of the Kent State community to express their support of our international students by passing along the #YouAreWelcomeHere message and welcomes them to use the following graphics to do so.