Office for international advocacy to take longer than anticipated

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The ASUW Student Senate’s meeting Nov. 19 was largely devoted to resolution R-26-3, a bill aiming to create a task force by fall quarter of 2019 to review the creation of an Office of International Student Advocacy, Outreach, and Involvement within ASUW.

The office would serve the nearly 17% of undergraduates who are international students. Currently, there is no existing ASUW body with the exclusive goal of advocating for international students.

“It’s important for international students to have a seat by the table to be able to raise their voices and their concerns because their concerns are so different from many of the issues domestic students face,” said Erik Solhaug, a secondary sponsor of the bill. 

Solhaug and several other students spearheaded the resolution as a workgroup and presented their work at the meeting. They explained their ideas, motivations, timelines, and general plans for the formation of a task force and eventually for the formation of the office. 

The meeting allowed the group members to dig deeper and shed some light on potential logistical road bumps that lay ahead. There were concerns raised by many senators the timeline for completion of the task force’s mission and members and the finance and budget complexities that could arise from such an office being established. 

Should the workgroup continue with their current projected goal to form a task group this year and eventually an office, they would have to submit internal information about the office and its functions to the ASUW Finance and Budget Committee by early winter quarter. This very tight time restraint was a cause for concern for the many senate and ASUW members with experience planning and forming new offices. 

“In my experience, there needs to be a very clear vision on what’s lacking and how this office will fill that need before things can move forward,” Camille Hattwig, senate liaison to the Services and Activities Fee Committee and assistant director of the ASUW Student Disability Commission, said. “My concern is if they don’t have all those pieces aligned already the task force would take significantly longer and ultimately adversely affect international students.” 

Many members echoed Hattwig’s caution and suggested a more meticulous albeit much slower approach to getting the office formed. It was suggested that the workgroup aim to more firmly solidify mission and objectives at more contained pace and attempt to form a task force in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The resolution was tabled, and will be revisited at a later date. 

Reach contributing writer John Lee at @JohnLee69595064

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