Correction appended. 

At its Tuesday night meeting, Ohio University Graduate Student Senate passed seven resolutions, including one that asked OU to no longer require international students to purchase the student health insurance policy.

Interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner and Vice President for Finance and Administration Deborah Shaffer were invited by GSS to discuss what they are looking for in a new provost as well as questions about the budget of OU, including the graduate student general fee.

“We’ve been trying to put together a budget book that continues to grow and expand with additional detail, and I would invite you to look at that,” Shaffer said. “We do try to put more and more transparent information out there about all of our spending within both the administrative units and the academic units.”

Elliot Long, senator for the College of Fine Arts, expressed concerns with knowledge of the general fee money on behalf of the Graduate Employee Organization. When he asked about it in the past, Long said he was given the general response of “we cannot be told where that money goes.” 

Shaffer explained that the answer he received in the past was correct, and described a “basket of goods” in which money from different areas goes to non-instruction related activities 

GSS’ discussion of asking OU to no longer require international students to purchase the student health insurance policy included primary sponsor Bahman Shahri, senator for the Patton College of Education. 

Shahri urged body members to approve that resolution to come to a conclusion by next Fall Semester. He said the conversation has been ongoing for the last “four or five years.”

Representative for Teacher Education Mohamed Amira, another primary sponsor, described his experience with purchasing that insurance. He said he was told “if you do not pay, you are violating your status and will be deported.” 

Long, another primary sponsor, explained that requiring international students to purchase that plan is a “huge financial burden” and dependents of those students cannot use those on-campus resources. 

GSS will provide examples from peer institutions as to how to waive the fee for international students.

Vice President for Legislative Affairs Zachary Watts discussed the GOP tax reform bill and said students would be taxed as if they were “working a full-time job” rather than being taxed as students.

On Wednesday, there will be a mass phone call event in Baker 237 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to discuss the policy with elected officials.

“I really encourage everyone to pass this along to your advisors, your mentors, and be there … to actually tell our elected representatives that this cannot go through,” Modayil said.

At the end of the meeting, Shahri announced his resignation from GSS.

“I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the role of GSS, its culture, its people and its finance,” Shahri said. “I can honestly say that the environment now, at least for me, is as toxic, disruptive and confrontational as I have (ever) seen.” 

In his statement, Shahri described being a victim of “offensive behaviors” within the last two months, most recently, being fired from the Rules and Procedures committee. Shahri questioned whether that decision had to do with his opposition to the election of Watts at their previous meeting

GSS meets bi-weekly in Walter 235.


Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Bahman Shahri's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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