UTMSU hosted their annual International Meet and Greet event last Thursday, where students got a chance to learn more about on-campus activities and meetings, as well as taste food from different countries.
Aside from sharing similar experiences, the event also served as a way for some students to raise their concerns over unregulated international tuition fees, and the division between domestic and international students.
“International students at UTM face high tuition fees, lack OHIP coverage, deal with unfair immigration processes, and a lack of transitional supports to assist them once they’re in Canada,” stated Marise Hopkins, UTMSU’s VP external, in an email to The Medium.
“[They] also face cultural discrimination, and in some cases, racism, depending on where they originate from. International students are also constantly assumed to be rich, and are seen as cash cows or moneybags by not only their non-international peers, but the U of T administration as well,” Hopkins added.
Shortly after the event, an email was sent out to the students, inviting them to take part in future meetings of the Ministry of International Students.
According to Hopkins, the Ministry of International Students meetings are held to “educate, agitate, and organize students around the issues that affect international students’ access to post-secondary education.”
“It was great to interact with people who are from all over the world,” said Diana Dang, a first-year sociology student from Vietnam, in an interview with The Medium.
“One piece of advice I’ve gotten as a freshman is to try everything that you can. The possibilities here are a luxury to me, that’s why I chose this school,” Dang also said.
Cindy Thai, a second-year history student from Netherlands, said, “There are issues that you usually don’t talk about with other students. I like events like this where you can meet other people. It’s easy; it’s accessible. There are issues you can relate to more, like moving to another country.”
“The purpose of the [International Students’ Meet and Greet] event is to build an international community at UTM that will transpire across cultures and borders,” Hopkins also stated in her email.
UTMSU plans on hosting other events that recognize cultural diversity on campus, including UTM Foodie this Wednesday and Multicultural Week in January.