Photo By: Brock University Students’ Union
Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) wants to make it known that the international student community is being welcomed back to campus with open arms. That is the focus of their latest video campaign.
Having been released on August 9th, the video clears up some of the questions and concerns that international students have raised to BUSU and Brock International Services regarding the pandemic, as well as to address unwarranted attacks that some international students have faced.
“In the last year we have seen a rise in…hate against other students coming back from COVID-19 hotspot countries,” said Ayushi Bakshi, member of the BUSU board of directors and one of the leads on this video project. “We want to let international students know that we support them. Brock and BUSU are working closely together to make sure we have the safest possible return to campus.”
International students have reached out to BUSU regarding issues that have arisen between themselves, their property owners, and their roommates, particularly in relation to their countries of origin and the high infection and low vaccination rates in those countries.
“We want to make it very clear that BUSU condemns this behaviour,” said Ammaar Juhardeen, BUSU vice-president, finance and administration. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone and now more than ever, we need to practice kindness.”
Bakshi has personally been the target of some of these attacks. Despite this, she still encourages students to consider where people and their concerns may be coming from.
“It’s important to have perspective when dealing with issues and situations like this,” said Bakshi. “Students who are not coming from a place of hate but a place of concern, we do need to understand that they also might have legitimate concerns with what’s going on around the world and in regards to their safety.”
Recently, Brock announced that all faculty, staff, students and visitors must be vaccinated if they wish to return to campus. While many believe that such a requirement should be a given, Bakshi argues that international students may fall through the cracks with a vaccine requirement, as there are many vaccines used across the world that are not currently recognized by Health Canada.
“But of course I would like to stress the importance of getting vaccinated,” said Baskhi. “It is one of the most crucial steps to getting back on campus and having a normal campus experience once again.”
Brock does offer vaccines to students at Harrison Hall. They have also hosted multiple vaccine clinics throughout the summer run by Niagara Region Public Health. Vaccinations will certainly be necessary to keep people safe on campus and to return to normal operations, something that many international students crave.
“It is good to see that everything is re-opening and things are getting back to normal,” said Binoy Binoy, a second-year business student. “As an international student, I expected a very different first-year experience on campus, but unfortunately, I had to complete my entire first-year online. I am very excited to be on campus soon.”
A large part of reopening Brock includes welcoming back international students, as they play a large role on campus.
“Being an international student myself, I feel like we play such an important role. Whether we are involved in BUSU, cultural clubs, or anything else,” said Baskhi. “Not only are we contributing to the Brock community in general, but the Niagara community as well and Canada as a whole because we bring in diverse perspectives and fresh ideas. As international students we bring so much to the table.”
Baskhi stressed that the Brock community is incredibly welcoming to her as an international student, which is why she feels that addressing these hateful and racist attacks against international students is an important thing for BUSU to do.
“Brock is an amazing community because of how diverse we are and one of BUSU’s core values is that we’re inclusive. We strive to foster welcoming and inclusive student communities,” said Rafay Rehan, BUSU president. “We look forward to welcoming back our community in September.”
On top of the video campaign, Bakshi noted that BUSU has been in talks with Dr. Camille Rutherford, Vice-Provost, strategic partnerships & international, regarding a reimbursement plan for international students to cover additional travel expenses they may incur as a result of the pandemic, though this is not yet set in stone.