Spring awakening. This is how I would describe this time on campus. Within a few days, we went from snowboarding to sunbathing. Flowers blooming around the UT sign. And during this long-awaited boost of positivity, I read about the stabbing incident at the ITC hotel.
A former international student from China was sentenced to more than two years in prison for attempted manslaughter. He got into a fight with another UT student, his friend. Afterwards, he was excluded from the Chinese student community. Numerous conversations with university staff and teachers later, he even received a restraining order. We all know how it feels to sit inside and limit our social contacts to a minimum right now. Fortunately, I am not living alone but still I feel mentally drained during this time. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to try to stay sane while being in a small studio all alone. In a foreign country. Of course, I am not justifying the actions of that student and I feel sorry for the friend who got injured. But I see a lot of international students sitting alone in their rooms on campus. Day in, day out.
Something that makes it even harder to gain a foothold in a foreign country, at a foreign university, are language barriers. The former Chinese UT student stated in court that he could not get in contact with any other but Chinese students or a psychologist because of his lacking English skills. Actually, his translator said it. UT rector Tom Veldkamp still rejects stricter English language tests before admitting students, national or international. Admitting them to a university that has English as its first and main language of communication.
I know that my English skills still improved throughout my study. However, I am expecting a certain level of proficiency when students are working in group projects. From the first week on. There is no time to learn the basics of a new language. Other students and their grades are depending on your writing capabilities and understanding of the English language. Asking for a proper test beforehand makes perfect sense, right? A test that the majority of applying students would probably pass anyway. No worries about a great financial loss. And, in general, shouldn’t educational and social gain overweigh here?
If the UT wants to face its issues, everyone needs to speak the same language. Proficiently. The incident at the ITC hotel shows the far-reaching consequences of not being able to communicate with each other. Consequences far more serious than not being able to follow a lecture or rewriting someone’s part in a project report.