April 19, 2016

Key Notes Gathered by Student Facilitators:

Notes from Small-Group Discussion Rounds

Group One:

Students at the table were mostly from London, so many of the comments grew out of the London experience.

Students indicated:

More courses should cover topics of diversity in their content. Opportunities like SOAS should be expanded to both semesters instead of just the fall.

Problem with a course like History of London which featured a reading list of mostly white authors, and which didn’t address the contemporary, diverse and modern London

Religious organizations hard to find at the sites and not as often promoted by the University.

Pre-departure very focused on US students, and not international students.

Sites should offer more opportunities for students to volunteer, interact with a diverse range of people locally, and to get to know different kinds of people.

Lack of foreign languages at the sites.

Sites need to do more to promote interaction between the first year students and the upperclassmen while at the site.

Group 2

Students indicated:

Promoting conversations about diversity and inclusiveness at the sites between students would be helpful, both about what to expect and how to prepare.

There should be spaces to discuss these issues (of diversity and inclusiveness) at the sites and also how to deal with the challenges of the everyday while at the site

Note: The Breathing Room at NYU Buenos Aires is an example of a good idea that other sites could model. The Breathing Room was a place where students could go to get snacks, talk about difficulties in adjusting, etc.

More global academic centers need to have information about places of worship for students at the sites.

Group 3

Students indicated:

The pre-departure sessions are lacking for the students meant to study at the away sites for the first year.

There is too much emphasis on how to navigate the city and exposure to the city but not enough on how to interact with the people at the location.

There is a lot on academic integration at the site but not enough on integration into a new place and the new culture.

CF/SF could be more connected to the contemporary so that they are not so heavily laden with so many dead white guys

There is too much neoliberal antagonism in the classroom which could risk the safety of the students and should be addressed. (Note: Maybe meaning liberal? Progressive?)

If they are having a mandatory Sex, Drug, Alcohol module, why aren’t they having a module for Diversity? That should be mandatory and required.

(Student interjection):Speaking for myself here and not the group: It’s too late in the game for us to be having this conversation. This conversation should have been had before sending students to the away sites. If there is no programming to support students of color/LGBTQ at the sites, then first year students shouldn’t be sent there. It [going to the sites] is great if you’re white but not if you’re not…. Angering for me because this should have been considered when these locations were conceived.It’s neocolonialism so if you could do something about that that would be great.

Notes from Large Group Discussion

(Notes drawn directly from student comments)

Student: There should be a blog where you hear student stories

Student: Language surrounding identities at the sites is problematic. Sometimes, too, people at the site will tell you not to go places that are not problematic at all. They will steer you away from locations even if they’re not an issue.

Student: FYA students going to the sites should be connected with one another before they go; it would be great for us to get to know one another before arrival and also for us to get connected to one another across all of the sites.

The FYAs should know one another before they transition to New York in the sophomore year so they aren’t also all clumped in little cliques. When the events happen on arrival for the sophomore year, they only just become reunions for the sites and don’t do anything to mix us together.

Student: FYA students are not made aware of all of the resources at the university that they have access to. For example, they should know CMEP and the LGBTQ center. If they aren’t aware of those resources, they feel like there is no where to go to talk about them.

It would be good to have CMEP support at each of the sites. It would also be help those centers actually supporting the FYA students.

Student: FYA needs support from Wellness, Moses, CMEP, LGBTQ. Those offices need to be supporting them, too.

Student: Everyone at the sites should be trained in the various zones: SAFE, ACTION, etc.

(Question from another student): How much is CMEP going to be able to do? Don’t outsource the problem. Everyone needs to be trained.

Student: Met a Muslim student starting at NYU Paris who is scared to be a muslim going to Paris to study.

Key takeaway: The university has a responsibility to make students feel safe regardless of their background/identify wherever in the world they are, even if it can’t change the politics of those countries.

Facilitator: Good point. You should feel safe, cared for, etc. .This is part of our vision for how things should look.

Student: Students beginning at the sites should be able to opt in to certain email lists that will address some of these issues. They should also be given a list of students who can speak to some of the issues that they are concerned about.

Facilitator: Good point. We all want to hear from one another, our experiences and we are more often interested in other people’s experiences.

We could do something like a Buddy system or a pen pal, someone who can confided in. Everyone should have someone who they are share with, so we can support one another.

(Someone mentions the mentorship program)

Student: When I was at NYU DC they had a diversity zone training and it was required of everyone. Even so, there were plenty of people there who clearly weren’t invested and didn’t really want any part of it.

How do you make people are aren’t interested in understanding learn and understand? How do you reach people who “Don’t give a damn”

Student: If we were to make a mandatory module or a training, one of the most important things is for people to get an introduction to the vocabulary and key concepts so that they know how enter into the conversation

Some people may not be able to understand the utility… [breaks off...]

Student: there is a panel on study abroad but it’s one panel with a couple of people representing vastly different sites. There is no way that one panel can adequately cover all of the diversity issues of all of the sites in one panel.

Instead, they should have one panel for each site with more than one student on the panel, representing different experiences.

Even if only three students came, that would be beneficial.

Student: The administration and the faculty should be doing this. It is their responsibility. After all, we pay them 60K a year. “It’s not my job to educate you.”

Student: The panel should have a diverse set of students.

Student: There is not enough awareness of the international student perspective. On arrival to London, I was arriving to an American university but also to London. I was most worried about assimilating myself with my new peers at college and not as worried about acclimating to London.

Facilitator: What do wish was there?

Student: there was a lot of focus on American holidays. We celebrated Thanksgiving. But there didn’t seem to be any awareness of Chinese New Year or Jewish and Chinese holidays.

People need to know about their resources and places to hear from other students.

Students would have liked more “real life” experience information about what actually happened to students while away.

Another student suggests that it should include negative reviews. “Some students left Paris because they realized that it wasn’t for them and it didn’t turn out to be that romantic vision of Europe they were expecting.”

There should be a blog that has information and bios for spokespeople who students can contact. .You could put student leaders up there, for example.

Student, Now I don’t trust blogs…

Someone else suggests that it be a student run blog. Completely. So that it’s not coming from NYU.

Needs to have the negative stuff there. Or maybe the negative stuff could be something that was communicated through email instead of on the site?

Student mentions how well the GLS mentorship program worked well and that maybe there would be a way for students to be connected with other students in that way.

Student: It’s their responsibility to make this happen.

Facilitator: A good question: How can you do this w/o censorship and/or faking it?