In both my second and final years, the Warwick SU sabbatical team has been all-white and annoyingly bureaucratic. I’m pleased to see that an international student, Hok Chiu, ran for SU president. Although change is happening, we still have a long way to go before we elect international student sabbatical officers and people of colour.
The problem is that the majority of SU candidates were white UK students. They do not represent internationals in any way. Call it a result of colonialism or racism, but those from abroad tend to feel somewhat segregated when home students plaster the entire campus with colourful cardboard and scream at us outside the library to vote for a better SU.
In reality, the majority of international students, but certainly not all, tend to stick with groups that make them feel welcome in the form of international societies. Those involved with international societies only interact with the SU when they wish to organize events or further the interest of their own group.
The problem is that the majority of SU candidates were white UK students
The SU does not seem to want to further the interests of international students unless those students come to push for it themselves.International students are not welcome in the United Kingdom. The only reason we are let into the country is because we have just enough brain and cash to inject into universities.
Once our tenure is over, and once we have been bled dry, we are left to fight for graduate programme places at large competitive companies, or apply for masters programmes. There’s no real opportunity to live here; international students can never fully participate in UK society due to microaggressions against them by both locals and large institutions.
The only reason we are let into the country is because we have just enough brain and cash to inject into universities
When the SU fights for free education and complains about a fee rise from 9,000 to 9,250, international students shake their head in dismay. We pay more than double the fees you pay, and we’re not rich. Our parents have been saving for our education from the moment we were born.
I don’t want to put all of the blame on the SU though. Us students also have a duty to the university and to the legacy we all will leave behind, much like home students. Despite the silent marginalization, the university and the SU has created an environment for us to flourish and chase our dreams.
International students also have a duty to the university and to the legacy we all will leave behind
The SU should employ strategies to encourage internationals to run for exec roles, as well as maintain support for international student societies. Furthermore, the role of the international student officer needs to be strengthened. Helping out with our financial burdens wouldn’t hurt either, the SU could provide seminars on how to save money and where to get discounts, as well as create dialogue with societies.
This, coupled with less bureaucracy and a more diverse Sabbatical Officer team, could increase the number of students voting. Until then, it’ll just be international students who study politics, like myself, reluctantly voting.