NIU international students survive holiday shutout

By Jen Bland

NIU’s international students have seen another troublesome Christmas break come and go.

Every year international students face the problem of finding alternative housing while the majority of students go home to their parents during the holidays.

“We explain to students at the beginning of the year that the residence halls will be closed,” said Jack Felver, NIU Housing director. “We don’t try to encourage or discourage

international students from living in residence halls. We just explain what the reality is.”

Thecla Behrens Cooler, assistant director of the International Student and Faculty Office, said she would love it if the policy could be changed, but she realizes it’s not a simple matter.

Felver cites many reasons the housing problem is not a simple one. He said many international students don’t want to live on one floor because they want to interact with American students.

He also said even if they would move to one floor during break it would be unfair to ask those students who normally occupy the rooms to move out.

Another reason it would be so difficult to change the policy is because of budget constraints.

“Traditionally, we have vacations for our staff members during breaks,” Felver said. “It would be very costly to find people to stay—if we could find them.”

NIU senior Rebecca Tung and a few of her classmates put together an informal survey of 23 international students.

Results revealed that about 73 percent said they would stay in the residence halls over break if they remained open. Sixty-five percent said they had difficulty finding places to stay over break.

Cooler said in response to earlier articles in The Northern Star, many members of the community wrote letters offering to allow international students to stay in their homes during break.

“We help students find housing if they ask us, but this year no one asked so it was almost like crying wolf,” Cooler added.

Despite the frustration of finding a place to go, senior Hung Hin from Taiwan said his break was great. He drove to North Carolina to stay with a friend.