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USG: $500 international fee should only fund OSU payers

Sally Xia / Lantern reporter

The Undergraduate Student Government made a resolution suggesting full transparency regarding the $500 per-semester fee for international students.
A Wednesday town hall meeting focusing on the controversy surrounding the international student fee was held at the Ohio Union, followed by a Senate meeting during which the resolution for change was made.
The fee is currently only charged to freshman international students, but eventually all undergraduates will have to pay. Fifty-five percent of the fee will go into academic and service enhancements including Student Life, and 20 percent will fund information sharing. Twenty percent of the fee is going to study abroad scholarships, which are available to all students, not just those who pay the fee. Some students don’t think that portion of the fee is fair.
About 40 people attended the town hall meeting, including representatives from the Office of International Affairs, faculty and domestic and international students.
USG President Taylor Stepp, a third-year in public affairs, and former USG Vice President Kevin Arndt, a fourth-year in political science and public affairs, led the town hall meeting.
William Brusteinvice provost for global strategies and international affairs, and Kelechi Kalu, associate provost for global strategies and international affairs, answered questions from the handful of students who expressed concerns about the use and the transparency of the fee.
Brustein said the fee is being directed into programs and services that will be beneficial to domestic and international students alike.
“The lion’s share of the fee will be used to provide services and programs for international students, from the moment they accept admittance to the university to the day that they’re back in their home country, or here,” Brustein said. “We want to enhance those services to make sure international students’ experiences are positive ones.”
However, some students, including members of the USG Senate, aren’t so sure.
“The OIA spokesman was incredibly articulate about where the money will go and made this very long speech about how it will go towards Ohio State students becoming more comfortable with other cultures,” said Erik Leiden, a USG member and a second-year in political science, in the USG Senate meeting. “Personally, I don’t think it’s the international students’ job to pay for us to become more comfortable with them.”
Shaoyu Guo, a second-year in economics who attended the town hall meeting, agreed but wasn’t sure how things could change.
“We just want them to know our views of this issue, but to change it, I think, is still far away,” Guo said. “Our message is that: does what we get equal what we pay? From what it seems right now, it is not.”
An estimated $1 million has already been collected from first-year international students, with $554,500 collected this semester, according to a Monday Lantern article.
After four years, the total revenue generated from the international student fee will reach about $6 million per year.
In response to concerns from students, Stepp and members of USG unanimously voted to ask for 100 percent of international student fee to be re-invested in international students.
“I am going to sign the resolution and it will be the opinion of all undergraduate students that we should see the 100 percent allocation of the fee (go) to international students,” Stepp said. “We also are calling for more transparency in relation to the fee, where it’s going, what services international students can benefit and we certainly hope that this will go a long way for international students.”


An earlier version of this story stated that 25 percent of the fee is going to study abroad scholarships. It is actually 20 percent.

An earlier version of this story stated William Brustein’s title as vice provost of International Affairs and Kelechi Kalu’s title as associate provost of OIA. Their titles are vice provost for global strategies and international affairs, and associate provost for global strategies and international affairs, respectively.

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