International Student Services must champion and understand the struggles of international studentsThe Badger Herald

While international students may pay the most to attend the University of Wisconsin, they are often relegated to the fringes when it comes to addressing their most pressing concerns, especially in the midst of the pandemic.

As such, in the search for a new Director to lead International Student Services, a genuine understanding of the barriers international students face on campus and as telecommuting students is essential to represent and express with precision their concerns.

Currently, the ISS is headed by Interim Director Samantha McCabe, preceded by Roopa Rawjee, and is in the process of hiring a new manager – along with McCabe and the coordinator of King-Morgridge Fellows Program Jason jonely the only two candidates. Each candidate participated in an unregistered virtual interview session on April 16 with 15 international students as well as staff and faculty from other departments on campus, including the ISS and the International Division.

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While the questions covered many topics ranging from exposing candidates to foreign culture to engaging alumni, questions about funding for higher education emergency relief were not addressed. , which is disturbing given the initial reluctance to compensate undergraduates in international teleworking with student hourly shifts, and the complications of using public funds to pay international students.

Although UW did cash this policy and ultimately the hourly workers of remunerated teleworking students, the lack of advocacy and support for international students during this financially difficult time – and no reduction in tuition or fees – underlines the need for the ISS to step up and listen to what the students say they are supposed to represent.

Especially when other schools have fought to provide federal emergency aid to international undergraduate students, UW and ISS have repeatedly chosen not to, a decision that has an impact nearly 3000 international undergraduate students.

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If the ISS leadership perhaps had a better understanding of the plight of international students, funding for emergency relief might have been an option for the students and compensation would not have been an issue. Instead of, student leaders had to intervene to support students, whereas the administrators who have the power to adopt changes at the administrative level have not done so.

Associated Students of Madison shouldn’t have to lead this work when it is clearly the responsibility and, frankly, the inability of the ISS to support international students and those telecommuting from overseas.

Lack of advocacy on behalf of the ISS is not only problematic, but should be a primary issue when looking for a new director. Just having strong leadership qualities or the experience of traveling abroad does not equate to cultural competence or a personal understanding of the day-to-day issues of an international student – especially a telecommuter in the middle. pandemic.

Experiential knowledge is essential for effective support, which means that the new director of the ISS should be more than just master the problems of international students, but a lawyer.

The Badger Herald Editorial Board calls on the ISS to consider its international students when selecting a new director to ensure that this group is heard, seen and supported without a doubt.

The Badger Herald Editorial Board serves to represent the voice of the editorial department, distinct from the newsroom, and does not necessarily reflect the views of individual staff members.