Oklahoma university covid 19

About 91 countries around the world provide cultural enrichment for Oklahoma State University, but this year, diversity has faced some challenges because of Covid-19.

The Dean of the Social Studies department, Dr. Randy Kluver, spoke on the impact of the 25% drop in the number of international students coming to OSU, as well as the vital role they play on campus.

“We think that the international students are an incredibly important part of the university because they bring talent, they bring new perspectives, they bring new ways of looking at issues, they allow our students to interact with somebody from a very different cultural background,” Kluver said. “So, we are not happy, what can I say.”

The process of an international student to enroll at Oklahoma State University alone is intricate and rather extensive and adding a global pandemic to the mix has only complicated the process further.

“Just getting their documents issued, getting an embassy open, getting a Visa, having to go through administrative reviews, travel bans to the United States, country travel bans even, even faculty that are part of the travel ban haven’t been able to enter the country yet,” Regina Henry, Coordinator of Immigration, said.

OSU students not only have the opportunity to learn from other cultures and traditions through their peers, but professors get to include their own experiences from their native country into their teaching material and style, making a more exclusive learning experience. Kluver expands on how Covid-19 disrupted diversity through faculty.

“We have a faculty member, for example, in our school upstairs, the school of global studies, who had to go home to Ghana over the summer to work on his Visa issues. Well, guess what, the US embassy in Ghana is closed. He can’t get back. And he is a faculty member,” Kluver said.

International students and faculty members not only uplift Oklahoma State University academically, but international staff enriches the quality of the services provided by departments like Dinning Services in various unique ways.

“They bring a lot of their knowledge with them because they are already in this major, so they have the idea of food sanitation, they have the idea of food production, so that really helps our campus, our Dining Services to provide better service for our students,” Vedda Hsu, Director of University Dining Services, said.

From the student body to faculty, to staff, Covid-19 has not only forced physical distance, but it has separated us from differences that allow us to see the world from another perspective: diversity. All areas say they hope Covid-19 subsides so they can resume the enriching relationships and experiences brought by international students.