Recognizing international students through ASOSU
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 01:01
For Naveena Supramaniam, ASOSU’s second-ever director of international affairs, getting the knowledge out there that her position even exists is task number one.
“Trying to get people to know about us is definitely a challenge,” Supramaniam said. “I and my task force members frequently attend events and meetings to show our support to the international students, and then speak to them about their student government and how can we support them. We have an awesome team this year, but still have a lot of work to do.”
While Supramaniam connects and works with multiple departments across campus on projects, the international affairs task force consist of only three other students — and they are working toward a very steep task.
“[Our goal] is to do outreach and advocacy on behalf of international students, working to ensure that all international students on campus are supported,” Supramaniam said. “And help to assist international students in gaining access to resources.”
Oregon State is approaching an enrollment of 3,000 international students from over 25 countries. Outreach can consist of handling everything from social, cultural, personal and financial struggles students face when new to the country and the campus. However, having an ease in the access of simple information can be a challenge as well.
Supramaniam is currently working with ISOSU to put together an integrated website that will compile isolated resources and information in one location for students. On and off-campus resource information will be placed on this website that will be launching its test run at the end of January, and hopefully completed by the end of the term.
Sydney Rivero, ISOSU’s coordinator for the international community, worked on the project with Supramaniam. Rivero explained this project was unique because of abundant resources on campus.
“We are getting students perspectives and student feedback,” Rivero said. “If something is not working we [students] will fix it.”
The website will consist of four main sections: academic, social and engagement, resources and shopping and food. The organization will be based on the description of organizations or titles within these pages in order to structure the pages off of what these resources provide, instead of what they are called.
“[The goal] was to simplify the complication of all the resources. As student employees we found it was difficult for us to navigate,” Rivero said. “We thought it must be harder for those with a low level of English proficiency.”
Another project developed by Supramaniam, and the task force, is the Weekend Family Project. This project is aimed at hopefully establishing a sense of community within the daily-student life on campus, as well as off-campus life in Corvallis.
After speaking with many students, things like home sickness or social struggles international students might face can become very taxing, and some sense of community will develop relationships will be beneficial for student who are transitioning to life at OSU.
Fall term was filled with work on the integrated website, reaching out to a growing off-campus international community and helping to address and work with academic and social challenges in the classroom. These projects will continue to be worked on but now new projects are beginning to appear.
“We are educating students about their rights, what they are paying for in their fees and exploring avenues on reducing the cost of living,” Supramaniam said.
According to the OSU website it can cost an undergraduate international student $37,440 a year to attend OSU, with tuition making up the bulk of that expense at $22,590. Just like domestic students, tuition will continue to rise with an estimated increase of $1,000 for the 2013-14 school year.
For a sense of perspective, the tuition cost for resident undergraduates at OSU is about $8,000 for the 2012-13 school year.
Not expecting a dramatic change within tuition rates, Supramaniam and her team are still working to help decrease the cost higher education demands. They are educating through info sessions on how to maximize all fees and costs students are charged upon attendance, and looking into ways living costs can be dropped for students here in Corvallis, which is the next highest amount out of the $37,000 total at over $9,000.
Along with the classroom and living issues, Supramaniam is working on her goal to increase student government participation for those who may never have had any.
The goal is to have open communication with students and ASOSU. Many students are not used to having a student government on campus. Supramaniam believes becoming involved is a great way to make the best of your experience here, and is as easy as walking down to the ASOSU office to find her or a member of the international affairs task force.