International Students Should Be Engaged in American Politics


Cara Zambrano, Staff Writer

The 2016-2017 academic year presented a 7.1 percent growth in the international student population in American institutions. For the five thousand of us at NYU, the election results had their own bittersweet flavor. President-elect Donald Trump rose to power bolstered on hate-filled speeches, most of which contained xenophobia — the nightmare of every individual living abroad. While international students are only here, theoretically, to get an education, they should be aware and critical of
American politics.

On that dark Tuesday night, Canada’s immigration website crashed. On the morning after, the University of Toronto’s international vice president said that there was a spike from the usual one thousand visits to around 10,000 visits on their recruitment website for international applicants. The director of global undergraduate recruitment at McGill University, another Canadian institution, reported that there was an increase of both American and international applications on the week following the election. While this does not only represent the outrage of many Americans with their own country, it also shows how international students are concerned about a Trump-led United States. Besides, many American institutions that praise themselves for their diversity, like NYU, are worried that this outcome may represent a lower international applicant pool due to this uncertainty. After all, the president-elect once stated that he planned to extinguish the work visa program, which would discourage students from attending U.S. universities — though his stance on the issue now is unclear.

Nevertheless, the turnout of the election left the already established one million international students confused. While Trump did not specifically attack them, he mentioned many times that foreigners, such as Mexicans and the Chinese, are “job-stealers.” Beyond this, after his election, there was a rise in hate crimes on colleges campuses, including two at NYU, which makes both prospective and current international students fearful. However, this should only encourage an active commitment to politics. Even though Donald Trump’s policies will only affect most of us for the nine academic months spent here — as for right now, he did not take a stance on changing the guidelines for student visas — it will affect our friends and mentors who live in the United States all year round. Our engagement in American politics will give much needed power and strength to voices that must be heard.

NYU already underlined that regardless of the election results, its diversity approach will not be changed and neither will the lives of its undocumented students. What international students should keep in mind is that while this is not our country, and Trump will never be our president; our lives, as of now, are here. Many of our friends are here; our alma mater is here. We should engage, listen and protest because we are not only a statistic, we are also part of this country.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Cara Zambrano at [email protected]