Sonoma State participates in national campaign to welcome international students

“You are welcome here.” 

With a simple sentence providing a strong message, Sonoma State University students, faculty and staff welcome international students to attend not only Sonoma State, but CSU campuses nationwide.

The “You Are Welcome Here” campaign aims to affirm that CSU “institutions are diverse, friendly, safe and committed to student development,” with the hope of encouraging international students to study abroad in the United States, according to the campaign. 

The Philadelphia-based Temple University was one of the first campuses to create a welcoming video for the campaign, after being inspired by a study group’s own video welcoming international students. The university is also in charge of running the campaign’s official website.

The project has received a lot of media attention, and as of February 2017, more than 100 colleges and universities were participating. 

Now Sonoma State has added its name to the list. 

Kim Baptista, administrative support coordinator for the School of Extended and International Education at Sonoma State, was assigned to produce the university’s video after her boss, Jason Lau, executive director of business and program operations, took interest in the campaign.

“We really wanted to get something out there that represented Sonoma State to let students know that if they’re coming from abroad, they would be welcome to study here and get their education,” Baptista said.  

Before the campaign spread across universities nationwide, there was a “drop off” in international students who came to study in the U.S., according to Baptista.

“It came from the initial travel ban that was put in place by the current administration,” Baptista said. “A lot of students were thinking about coming to the United States to study, then weren’t too sure if this was the place they wanted to come to for an education.” 

This past September, President Donald Trump issued a new order indefinitely banning all travel to the United States from seven countries, citing threats to national security. 

According to the New York Times, the addition of non-Muslim countries to the ban could address the legal attacks on earlier travel restrictions as discrimination based on religion. 

According to the New York Times, the addition of non-Muslim countries to the ban could address the legal attacks on earlier travel restrictions as discrimination based on religion. 

Robert Eyler, dean of the School of Extended and International Education, recently gave a statement on the campaign. 

“Education is the great equalizer in terms of long-term prosperity and this is why the world comes to the United States to study,” Eyler said. “Sonoma State University is, as any educational institution should be, a place that welcomes al people.” 

Baptista, a Sonoma State alumnus, used the connections she developed as a student to reach out to different departments, from music to athletics, asking them to participate in the video. 

“I’m hoping that we will see... an uptick on students [who] not only inquire but [who] apply to SSU, [and] that we can actually see more students that want to come here.” Baptista said. “We feel like we’ve captured the essence of Sonoma State and why you should come here to get an education.”