International students began to express apprehensions about studying in the U.S. amidst the politically charged atmosphere in 2016. A grassroots effort begun by a half dozen colleges, now numbering more than 300, focused on making students from around the world feel more welcome here using the hashtag #YouAreWelcomeHere.
Cottey College is joining ranks with other colleges to affirm the college’s commitment to offering a safe, diverse and friendly campus becoming the first women’s college in the country to participate in the campaign.
Cottey has a history of welcoming students from around the world and in the 1950’s was referred to as the “college of world friendship”. In September, U.S. News & World Report ranked Cottey #3 among colleges in the Midwest region with the Most Proportion of International Students. In fact, this year 15% of the student enrollment is comprised of international students.
The campaign, launched at an all-campus meeting, uses marketing and social media featuring the message #YouAreWelcomeHere. Marketing and Strategic Communication Department in cooperation with Enrollment Management, Academic Affairs and Student Life developed a communication plan that was submitted to the #YouAreWelcomeHereusa.org for acceptance into the campaign.
“We want students from around the world to know that Cottey supports diversity,” said Carla Farmer, vice president for marketing and strategic communication. “Our international students enrich the learning experience on campus preparing all students to compete in a global society.”
Cottey is communicating its message of welcome in statements, photos, video, social media and other creative expressions that feature students, faculty and staff. A short video was created featuring faculty, staff and students saying “You are welcome here” in their native language. The video along with information about services available to support international students will soon be available on the Cottey Cares web page at www.cottey.edu/cottey-cares. It will also be located at YouAreWelcomeHereusa.org website.
According to the #YouAreWelcomeHere website, students have expressed gratitude and relief. Several students report that the video messages are especially reassuring to their parents who are comforted to see friendly faces behind the many higher education institutions across the country.