A lukewarm welcome

Quinnipiac needs to step up its game for international students’ arrival

Lachie Harvey, Contributing Writer

International students don’t make up a big portion of the Quinnipiac University community, but we’re still floating around here and there. As it goes with any group, when someone arrives on campus, they should be walking into their second home. This was most definitely the case for me when I first flew in from New Zealand last year. I came over to the United States for the second time in my life, and it took a mere handful of hours for me to fit in.

This year, COVID-19 took everyone’s plans and expectations and plopped them straight in the shredder. It’s fair to assume that some students may not be able to come into such a welcoming environment. That being said, the treatment of international students upon arrival at Quinnipiac this semester was totally unforgivable.

International students travel for an extremely long time in order to get to campus. I spent 37 hours in transit from leaving my house to arriving on campus. I thought that the international student department and residential life would be aware of this. I assumed that they were well prepared to ensure that when international students get on campus, they can rest up and settle in properly.

Graphic by Connor Lawless

I was wrong. When I arrived, I had to first check in at the York Hill campus before heading to the Mount Carmel campus and moving into my temporary isolation housing. A small inconvenience, but an entirely avoidable one. The staff in charge of check-in were very kind and helped me get a public safety car to transport me down to the main campus.

When I got to my room, I met Sarah Driscoll, the head of the international student department, and my temporary suitemate Phillip, a first-year from Austria, who had moved in the day prior. Driscoll was very friendly and clear with me, precisely outlining what was expected of us while staying in the housing.

After leaving us to our own devices, I asked Phillip where he’d come from and how his experience had been so far. As it turned out, Phillip had come in at 1 a.m the previous day. His driver, hired by the university, had arrived late to pick him up from John F. Kennedy International Airport. A poor start, I thought to myself.

Phillip then grabbed a set of sheets from beside the door as he was speaking and put them in his room. They were unused. He had slept the night before with no bedding. I was pretty blown away. This poor guy had spent his first night in the U.S in a room with no bedding, on a campus he couldn’t explore, all right after traveling 12 hours from Austria. We got an email a few minutes later stating that certain groups were required to isolate for two weeks.

“If they make me stay in here for two weeks, I’ll ask my mom to book me a flight home,” Phillip said.

Thankfully, we figured out that it wasn’t us. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Phillip was released to meet and interact with his cohort almost a full week after they had all moved in. I understand that these times are difficult for everyone, hell I had it lucky back in New Zealand with six active cases when I left. That being said, Quinnipiac needs to seriously step up its game with its treatment of international students, especially in the first few weeks of freshman year. The department is certainly not rude by any means; as I’ve said, all the staff I interacted with were friendly.

However, friendliness can only go so far. A much clearer set of parameters and instructions should have been set for international first-years. First, they should have all first-year international students come in on the same day. There is enough space in the isolation rooms for all of them to fit. This would make adapting unbelievably easier, even in an environment where they always have to keep six feet of space between themselves. It also means that the international department can have a day where they can clarify any and all queries that the first-years might have.

Next should have been ensuring that international students were brought in as early as possible. It’s totally unfair to send students out to meet their cohort several days after their arrival. Finally, tests should be done the day international students arrive. This shortens the time spent in isolation, and it gives students the opportunity to socialize earlier.

Like I’ve said, the international staff are kind and respectful toward us international students, and I understand times are strange. But considering the majority of us travel for well over 10 hours to a school that is supposed to be our home away from home, the needs of international students should be a higher priority at Quinnipiac.