Weber State University’s international students feel silenced, according to International Senator Naif Hamad Abusaq. In student senate, Abusaq raised a concern about a recent personnel change in the International Student and Scholar Center.
According to Abusaq, and confirmed by Jan Winnifred, vice president of Student Affairs, a new administrative position was created to manage out-of-center affairs, including networking, marketing, etc. Students in the center were surveyed about who they would like to fill the position, after having the opportunity to meet the candidates. Abusaq said the candidate who won by the popular vote, current director of the center Morteza Emami, was not selected by administration. Consequently, Abusaq said, the students attempted to meet with President Ann Milner, who asked them to follow the chain of command.
“We are feeling that our voice is not being heard,” Abusaq said.
He said the students in the center do not support the decision and would like administration to re-consider. Winnifred spoke on behalf of the administration, saying the decision was made based on more than the student opinion.
“That voice was considered,” she said. “We selected a person who has a breadth of experience.”
Winnifred said some of the disagreement may stem from a misunderstanding of the new position.
“The position was created primarily to look at where WSU will go in the future with international studies,” she said. “It’s a very different position.”
Several students from the center attended student senate, in support of administration reconsidering their decision. Among the reasons to rethink the new position and the new hire, students said they were concerned about the funding needed to support the new position.
“We are kind of worried about ourselves,” Abuseq said.
Winnifred said the decision was not made lightly.
“We take our search process very seriously,” Winnifred said. “The decision has been made and I wish everyone could see the benefits of the person who was chosen.”
Senate President Justin Neville closed the discussion by asking the international students to follow the proper channels and requested that they remain respectful as they request more information and appeal the decision.
Winnifred also announced the finalized academic calender. She said the faculty senate has decided to keep spring break the first week of March, between two 7-week blocks of class. While this decision for the spring of 2013 has been finalized, Winnifred said legitimate concerns from students may be considered.
“I think there’s been years of discussion of the changes,” she said. “We just have to have the rationale and justification.”
Discussion of the future of the UTA Education Pass continued after Diversity Chair Viviana Felix relayed concerns of the Hispanic Area Council.
Currently, the pass is free to students through a contract between the school and UTA, but that may change in the next school year. Neville said the proposed fee is anywhere from $25-$50, though nothing has been finalized.
“It’s still exponentially cheaper to pay the fee and buy the pass than it would be to drive your car to campus,” he said.
Glen Mortenson, senator for Students with Disabilities, said he benefits greatly from the free pass.
“For people like me, the Ed pass is really a God-send,” he said.
Brady Harris, Senator for the Davis Campus, encouraged students to avoid worrying about the decision until it has been made.
“There’s still a lot of talking to be done,” he said. “I can assure you the student voice will be heard. Let it get more concrete.”