Senate Beat: International Students Talk CPT

The April 15 Senate Public meeting was moved online last minute, harkening back to earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform shift was representative of the COVID surge that had befallen the Reed campus, which was discussed during committee updates. The rest of the meeting primarily centered around a conversation on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for international students. The rest of the committee updates included updates on a computer use survey, community safety, and treasury’s work for Renn Fayre.

Director of International Student Services Gwen Sandford, as well as international students Aditya Gadkari ‘22 and Diana Wang ‘23, had been invited to speak on a forthcoming proposal for CPT at Reed. Sandford began the discussion by introducing CPT as a program that would allow students on F1 visas to work off-campus to fulfill a graduation requirement. Sandford explained that the program was especially necessary because international students have limitations placed on work opportunities, as these students can ordinarily only work on campus with a 20-hour cap per week during an academic session and a 40-hour weekly cap during academic breaks. Currently, should a student want to work off-campus for any form of remuneration, they must undergo a long, expensive, and cumbersome process that also takes away from a student’s ability to work in the US upon graduation. CPT, an alternative work program offered by many of Reed’s peer institutions, bypasses many of these difficulties with a quicker, easier, and cheaper approval process. Sandford highlighted that the reason why CPT had not been authorized in the past is that Reed does not award credit or require any form of practical or experiential learning as part of the curriculum. 

Sandford went on to explain that a new proposal had been designed to expand the PE/CE credit requirement to recognize experiential learning credit, so a student could be authorized to complete CPT as a program tied into Reed’s graduation requirements. This proposal had been approved by the Committee on Academic Policy Planning (CAPP), and it was to be voted on in the upcoming April 18 faculty meeting. Wang spoke in support of the proposal, encouraging students to advocate for international students by reaching out to faculty members to ask them to vote in favor of the proposal. 

Wang then retold an interaction she had had with a professor, where she urged him to vote in support of the proposal, and the professor raised two concerns, which Sandford and Wang clarified answers to. The professor was unsure as to why the program would offer credit to domestic students as opposed to just international students. Wang put a response frankly and said that federal regulation requires it, and Sandford expounded, saying that the program was designed as a graduation requirement, so it must apply to all students earning a bachelor’s degree at Reed. Sandford also stated that the program would be beneficial to domestic students too, as it would provide curricular recognition for experiential learning, even though it was not weighted in academic units. 

A second concern raised was that the requirement would peel the PE requirement away further, noting that up to two credits could be attained through a Community Engagement (CE) off-campus program. Both Wang and Sandford refuted this, saying that experiential learning credits would count for the same type of credit as both self-directed PE and CE credit, meaning that the same two-credit cap would be held for any combination of the three options. Gadkari added that the current proposal was already a compromise, and the two-credit cap posed many inherent problems, noting issues surrounding disability access. Gadkari went on to encourage more future conversations surrounding the PE credit, posing the questions of “why does it exist?” and “why is it the reason why we withhold the most degrees from graduating seniors?”. 

The discussion closed with Gadkari stating the existence of the possibility of the faculty voting in favor of the idea, but not approving the proposal with the hopes that it be workshopped further. Gadkari then stated that it was impossible to anticipate the result of the vote. He said, “We don’t know what the temperature in the room is going to be. There are faculty that are going to say no to this because it’s not a 10-page proposal, and there are faculty that are going to say no to this because it’s not a 1-page proposal. And that’s just how it is at Reed.” On Monday, April 18 the Faculty voted in favor of the proposal. Read more on page 3.

Committee updates during this public meeting were cut short. Student Body President Safi Zenger expressed a lack of desire to do committee updates that day, and she instead asked that each senator in attendance provide one important update. Assistant Treasurer Wani Pandey provided updates on COVID-19. Pandey stated that there had been a surge of COVID cases on campus, which had been anticipated due to Portland’s lifting of the mask mandate. She went on to stress that an expected surge is a surge nonetheless, and encouraged students to be extra cautious and adhere to COVID precautions. Pandey also spoke with Dean of Faculty Kathy Oleson about reopening hybrid or remote options to accommodate for the rise in cases.

Head Treasurer Kiana Cunningham-Rodriguez then provided updates on behalf of Treasury. Cunningham-Rodriguez explained that the KRRC has come to the finance committee to ask for funds to produce stickers, and, although this allocation had initially been provided to them, their budget had been “kind of messed up” because a mixer broke and the KRRC had to pull funds from other parts of their budget to purchase a new one. A vote was taken, and the $44 dollars that had been requested was unanimously approved to be fully funded. In other Treasury news, Cunningham-Rodriguez expressed excitement that the Renn Fayre funding allocations and vendor contracts were being worked on, a sign that Renn Fayre was fast approaching. With Renn Fayre would come the end of the year, so Cunningham-Rodriguez also stated that the last day checks could be issued would be on Tuesday of the semester, April 27.

President Zenger’s primary update was on the progress of the professor feedback site that she and Cunningham-Rodriguez had been working on. The skeletal frame of the site had been completed, so the focus had been shifted toward making stylistic choices like a color palette and a font, while Webmaster Lucas “does all the coding and stuff”. Senator Lennox Reeder spoke about the results of a survey taken by the Computing Policy Committee (CPC) that had received 360 responses. They went on to elucidate that printing has been decreasing progressively on campus, and Reed barely makes enough money to continue running sustainably at current rates for printing. As such, the CPC is looking into expanding student printing access. Reeder also mentioned that the team was considering updating library equipment in many ways, such as by placing mobile chargers around the library. 

Senator Ena Hashimoto’s update focused on a meeting with Bon Appetit which was to occur later that day, and the agenda would cover creating more detailed ingredient lists to account for specific food allergies, as well as improving food delivery services. Senator Mack Marsaw elucidated plans for a different meeting, for the CSO committee. Marsaw’s planned discourse included conversations surrounding Renn Fayre’s drug and alcohol safety and assistance, as well as discussing CSOs’ role as a mental health resource for students.

Both Senator Jefferson Ratliff and Vice Treasurer Sean Brown’s updates centered around surveys to be distributed to students. Ratliff expressed excitement about a survey to gauge students’ knowledge on academic planning, with an emphasis on faculty and staff roles in the matter. Brown then closed out committee updates and spoke on behalf of the Student Committee on Academic Policy and Planning’s plan to release a survey called the Strategic Planning Student Survey (whew), as well as the committee’s creation of a “fun flowchart”.

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