Of all the student groups who arrive on campus before meal plans are activated, international freshmen, who are required to be here a week early for the international student orientation, are among the only ones who do not have meal passes to get into Trojan Dining.
The orientation period lasts for about five days and the students are provided few on-campus lunch options for those days.
“The Baptist Campus Ministries provided lunch one day, one day the sororities provided lunch and the last day, Friday, the dining hall provided lunch,” said Morgan Brantley, an international student adviser in The Center for International Programs (CIP).
“We provided them lunch coupons to get into Trojan Dining hall for the other two days,” she said.
Nevertheless, they are left to fend for themselves for all their other meals. According to Brantley, they are informed in their arrival email that the meal plan wouldn’t be activated when they arrived.
Many international students seemed to be unaware of this fact, and Brantley said it was more of a question of whether they read their emails.
The CIP seems to be working towards making it more convenient for students to access food provisions off campus.
“We make arrangements for them to go out, like this year, there is a shuttle to Walmart every day at 5 o’ clock,” Brantley said.
“I was told in emails that meal plans would only activate on the 12th of August,” said Mai Lam, a freshman global business major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
“(It was) still very inconvenient for international students to buy food themselves”
“I had an aunt in Texas, and she brought food for me, but other international students might have trouble.”
Brantley said they have been doing better this fall with providing food options compared to the previous semester.
“I think this fall was a lot better than spring because in the spring, there were only lunches for three days provided, while this fall, we provided lunches for five days.”
Nevertheless, there is a lot more that can be done to improve the first-week experience for new international students.
Students could be given an estimate of what getting food off campus would cost them for the first week so they are prepared to meet those costs. The CIP could also work out an option for the new students to have a meal pass so they could get access to Trojan Dining.
“In my opinion, the best way to improve this would be if the meal plans were activated earlier,” Brantley said.
To facilitate this in the long run, the university could work out an option that activates the students’ meal plan once they check into their campus housing. Considering that many students who arrive early are obligated to be here, it is only fair that students have an active meal plan as soon as they move in.
Providing international students with this service would only help enhance their experience on campus and will make them feel more at home when they get to Troy.