Ohio University Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina spoke with Graduate Student Senate Tuesday about budget changes for The Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as the hiring of a legal consultant for international, immigrant and undocumented students.
With his role as the interim chief diversity officer, Pina was able to inform GSS of his concerns with the current state of the department and how it’s improved since he’s been in office.
“When I first met with Dr. Murray (Director of the Women’s Center) and asked her about our budget and it was small,” Pina said. “The Women’s Center had a small budget and the LGBT Center had a small budget. By the middle of August, I gave them a one-year allowment of $50,000.”
Pina, who said the centers have larger budgets “than they’ve had in years,” later discussed how these centers are one-person operations, and many times have to lock the door when students finally “work up the courage” to walk in and get involved.
“The future is much brighter than the present,” Pina said.
The idea of hiring a legal consultant to come to campus twice a month to provide legal advice to international, immigrant and undocumented students was addressed to Pina. He admitted his knowledge of the subject is limited to the history of the waivable fee for Student Legal Services.
However, he stated that working with GSS as well as Student Senate in revisiting the hiring of a legal consultant is a process they can go through.
Later in the meeting, GSS revisited the resolution to hire a legal consultant. Students had opposing views on the subject. Bahman Shahri, the leading sponsor of the resolution, also spoke about the announced by President Donald Trump, which includes eight countries instead of the original six.
He said that international, immigrant and undocumented students have nowhere to go to discuss these issues because the representation is not there.
“International students naturally face different kinds of challenges when they go to universities, from the national visas to having working limits. But this one is different,” Shahri said. “There’s this anxiety amongst them not just members coming from these eight countries, but other international students that I’m sure the same things are going to happen.”
Shahri hopes to not only provide the service for current students, but students applying in the future. He mentioned the decrease in enrollment of international students and how the proposed policy could add value to the branding of OU.
Elliot Long, another sponsor of the resolution, said 10 of OU’s peer universities have a form of consulting for students, provided through international student affairs. Long argued that in the resolution, it should be emphasized that the service provided is free of charge to students, and will be discussed when renegotiating the Student Legal Services contract.
“We have a likely model with Colorado State,” Long said. “They have two consultants who come to campus once a month to have appointments with students, so we’re asking for something comparable to that.”
There were mentions of making amendments to the resolution by some members of GSS, who stated that Skype calls should be offered as an alternative to meetings with an in-person consultant.
However, the amendment was ultimately voted down by members.