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Davis, California

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

ASUCD senate bill introduced to create international student committee

An ASUCD senate bill has been authored that would create a special committee with the purpose of promoting culture, education, hospitality and leadership of international undergraduate students.

The bill was authored by second-year computer science major and UC Davis international student Shehzad Lokhandwalla, who is also a member of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Board; Edward Yoo, student activities official and ASUCD President Rebecca Sterling.

The goal of the bill is to represent the opinions and concerns of international undergraduate students in order to accommodate their needs.

If the bill passes, this special committee will be known as the International Undergraduate Student Committee.

“The chancellor plans on getting more international students by 2020, but we must ask ourselves whether the campus is prepared. Often international students are lost when they first move to the United States … This newly formed committee basically tells the campus that ASUCD cares for international students,” Lokhandwalla said.

While Davis’ International House and the Campus Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) currently exist as resources to international students, Lokhandwalla said that international students still struggle to find the materials and resources that they need in order to be successful, both academically and socially.

Moira Delgado, International Students Club advisor and SISS outreach coordinator, said that students, staff, faculty and administrators need to do more to make the campus more accommodating to international students.

“Sometimes both staff and faculty need to understand a little bit better about language and cultural differences when students come here. [But] I think there’s a really good climate for the most part,” Delgado said.

According to the bill, UC Davis had a student population of 25,096 undergraduates in the 2011-12 academic year, and of those students, approximately 1,800 students were international students from over 100 different countries.

Ken Burtis, genetics professor and faculty advisor to the chancellor and provost, has authored a 2020 initiative report which, among many functions, aims to increase the influx of international students on campus.

Burtis pointed out that increasing the number of international students on campus could contribute to financial and campus growth, as international students pay higher tuition than students from California.

In addition, Burtis said that integrating international students into the campus community will have a positive impact on both national and international students.

“We want to create a welcoming environment for [international] students and we’re going to need the help of California students to do that. And that is sort of a benefit in both directions … Having some close friends from Sri Lanka and Korea would benefit your development as a student,” Burtis said. “If we don’t have interactions between students, then that internationalization potential benefit is not realized. [In] the other way, there’s a huge benefit for [international] students. The fastest way to develop your English language skills and cultural education is to have those interactions. It’s really important.”

According to Lokhandwalla, it is his hope that this bill will enable international students to be more involved in ASUCD, allow the voices of international students to be heard and contribute to awareness of international students on campus.

The bill is currently being seen by ASUCD commissions before it reaches the senate table.

JESSICA GRILLI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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