As a Japanese student studying abroad, I have come to learn that I fall under some broad categories of “marginalized groups,” such as being an Asian woman. Though I still sometimes feel uncomfortable being generalized into the American identity politics, I have come to terms with my place as an international student in this social structure.
However, when I heard that the International Student Affairs will be moved to the Resource Center, I was confused. Some of the mission statements of the Resource Center are to “help meet the basic needs of students who are most vulnerable,” and to “provide students with resources to engage in meaningful identity-driven work.” It seems to me that the Resource Center is a place for vulnerable groups within the definition of American identity politics, but “International Students” is not a group that falls under this structure.
“International Students” is not a political identity, but a legal label that is solely defined based on the student’s citizenship. We may share some logistical needs, but there is no collective narrative of struggle that define our experiences. The needs of an international student that is born and raised in the United States, is significantly different from the concerns of students who was never exposed to the Western culture up to college. Simply labeling international students as a marginalized group within the American political framework may be a dangerous generalization of the diversity and struggles that some, but not all, face.
Over the past two weeks, the administration and Resource Center have kindly arranged two meetings to listen to international student concerns. In the dinner discussion last Friday, director Demetrius Colvin and Dean Mike Whaley promised us an individualized, human approach to the needs of each student. However, their mission statement, which is what the applicants for new positions see, may be somewhat different from what they say. As the reviewing process accelerates for the new positions in the coming year, I hope that the Resource Center will make use of our discussions and structure a strong support system for all Wesleyan students.
Nago is a member of the class of 2019.