The International Student Association office was moved over the summer due to the new expansion of Lower Farinon. The students of the ISA board said they were given no warning of the change.
This move came as Lafayette welcomed the Class of 2018, which holds roughly 80 international students, making this the college’s most diverse class in history.
There was a sense of community built within the previous ISA office, President of the ISA Mariela Gratero ‘15 said.
“The ISA office is a place of welcome and comfort for many international students,” Gratero said. “It is a place where they first create bonds with both domestic and international students upon their arrival on campus.”
The new ISA space is smaller compared to the old ISA office, windowless, and unable to accommodate large numbers of people. The space is no longer visible in the student center atrium and is not a place that tour guides can present to tours or that students can simply walk into and start a conversation. Meetings for the ISA are now held in the atrium of Lower Farinon, whereas they were previously held in the association’s office.
Each year, the ISA plans and operates the entire international student orientation, which occurs during the three days prior to freshman move-in day. Throughout the year, the ISA arranges talks and events with a variety of other student organizations. Extravaganza, which is a week-long event in April, is completely organized by the ISA and consists of brown bag lectures, food, and events to help promote awareness about diversity, culture, and inclusivity around the campus. All of these events are planned and organized within the ISA office.
“It is impossible to discuss cultural issues and to share ideas, in this small space,” Vice President of the ISA Kanako Shibano ‘16 said. “We are not visible to campus.”
Dean of Students Paul J. McLoughlin II who was involved with the administration, dining services, finance, and plant operations in the renovations of Farinon, wrote in an email to The Lafayette that one must consider “whether space is being used by a small number of students or a larger number of students.”
All students are now provided with an open floor plan, additional seating, and television, in Lower Farinon, because of the renovation.
While many groups on campus wish to have a space to call their own, McLoughlin said that less than 10 percent of all campus groups, including the ISA, have a space specifically designated for their purposes. The ISA office is supposed to be an office for the ISA advisor, Janine Block, where she processes immigration and visa paperwork, social security documents, and transportation records for international students, according to McLoughlin.
“I care very much that our international students and want them to feel supported and valued,” McLaughlin wrote in an email. “I also need to make sure that our spaces support as many students as possible.”
Gratero said she would like get a space visible to the entire student body and large enough to accommodate the growing diverse population at Lafayette.
“The ISA is for everyone,” Gratero said. “We want a space where we can interact with all students, where we can serve as a resource to bridge the gap for both domestic and international students.”