Many Mills students were surprised to find 70 international students flood the dining hall at the beginning of the semester.
Education First (EF) is a coed program that provides language and academic training for students who want to study abroad. The EF program is using the Mills’ campus to acclimate international students to an American college campus. The partnership between Mills and EF has been renewed after the program has not been on campus since 2011, having been on campus for 20 years prior. According to the EF website, the program is composed of students from seven countries: Spain, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan. Although they are residing on campus in Ege Hall, they are taking college prep and English classes separately from the Mills students. The students are taking classes such as College Survival Skills, Grammar and Culture and Advanced Writing to prepare them to attend a variety of American universities in the Fall.
For many Mills students, there is still an air of mystery surrounding the EF program and its students due to a lack of information about the program from the College. Vice President of Operations Linda Zitzner sent an email out in December to notify Mills students about the new international students. The email was insufficient to some students, leaving many with questions and concerns such as whether or not the EF students got the same diversity and consent orientations that Mills students had.
Zitzner stated that more information will come regarding the program at Mills.
“We are preparing a more thorough communication about the EF program,” Zitzner said.
First year Rebeca Montaño is enthusiastic about the program, as she believes that it will be enriching to both the Mills and EF students. She believes that because the EF students are not in Mills classrooms, the College is not coed and impeding on brave spaces.
“I think that the foreign exchange students add to Mills’ global presence by bringing international students into our learning environment,” Montaño said. “It also gives current students the great opportunity to get to know a new and diverse group of students,”
Although many students welcome the program, others are opposed to the coed feeling that the EF students bring to campus. First year Phoebe Rogers was upset about the lack of information on the EF program provided to Mills students by the College.
“The email didn’t specifically mention men being on campus, and I feel like more could have been done to make sure people were thoroughly informed,” Rogers said.
Many upset students chose to attend Mills because of its status as a historically women’s college. They had the assumption that there would be very few men on campus, besides the male graduate students.
“Many students have personal convictions against attending a school with men, so it might be inconveniencing people who expected something different out of their Mills education,” Rogers said.
Not only were Mills students upset by the program, but the EF students were unsatisfied with it as well. EF French student Hakim Yaici is not satisfied with the program’s structure.
“We don’t like that we can’t go to your classes,” Yaici said. “EF promised that we could go to the classes, but now they’re saying there’s no way to do that.”
Despite the polarized views on having the program on campus, EF students are enjoying their time at Mills so far. They are looking forward to enjoying the American college lifestyle.
“[I like to] wake up and go to class in my pajamas,” Yaici said.