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DSU students rally in support of college

In the midst of a storm of negativity at Dickinson State University, students rallied Thursday to highlight positive aspects of the campus.

Results of an audit were recently released which found serious issues with 743 students' files who participated in special international programs, which began in 2003. Some international students are worried about their future.

Student and alumni speakers talked about why they are proud to be a part of DSU to more than 100 listeners at the Student Center Ballroom.

"There are individuals across the world, the country, other cities and even right here in Dickinson who question the moral and integrity of this institution," said Deryl Matthew, Student Senate president. "By each of us being here today, I believe those questions of moral and integrity have been answered."

DSU may face sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education, State Department and Homeland Security due to violations. The majority of the students involved are from China.

During the rally, Jinqiu Cai, a DSU student from Beijing who goes by the name Victoria, said she wants to stay at DSU.

"As a student who has already suffered from the inefficiency of the special programs, I'm actually impressed by the solidity and the courage of all DSU members," she said. "I do want to say that I have faith in DSU, I trust DSU and DSU will surely prepare us for our life in the future."

After the rally, Cai said many of her Chinese friends enrolled at DSU are anxious over the results of the audit, which showed hundreds of international students did not meet minimum admission requirements, lacked official transcripts and received unearned degrees.

"They are faced with the risk that they spent a year here without getting a degree," she said. "A lot of them have lost the meaning of being here, but as long as you find a proper way either to transfer your transcript from China or stay longer at DSU, you can still get a degree here."

Officials have not decided what to do with students implicated in audit, said Ronnie Walker, DSU director of multicultural affairs.

"Most of them are, so far, waiting it out to see what we can work out," Walker said.

Most of those who spoke at the rally talked about the sense of community they feel at DSU.

"You can't walk down the sidewalk and not see somebody you know," said student Ben Diede. "I know in classes in other colleges you might just be a number ... I don't remember the last time I had to say 'present' in a class because the professor knows who I am."

Most of those who spoke also highlighted how the campus has pulled together during this dark time.

"When I look around this room right now, I do not see a campus divided," said Austin Frazier, a DSU student. "I see a campus of strong people who are all Blue Hawks."

Diana Knutson, a DSU alumna, believes DSU and Dickinson are ready for the challenge of overcoming adversity.

Several groups of students organized the event, said Scott Poswilko, a DSU senior, student senator and ambassador.

"We wanted to show how much positive there is going on at DSU's campus," he said. "We really want to focus on the good that's happening."

Ashley Martin is a reporter

for the Dickinson Press,

which is owned by Forum Communications Co.