Hi, I'm Avijit Roy, a candidate for the Vice-Chair for International Students Affairs in the University Students Senate.
My Campaign Statement
I am grateful to get this chance to share my standing for this amazing leadership position as the Vice-Chair for International Students Affairs. This is a very unprecedented time for all of us as students, teachers, administrators, or whichever positions we are in. This pandemic is teaching us many things like online work, class, etc. and on the other hand it took away our social life, and many of our loved ones. These are irreversible changes which cannot be supplemented by anything else. Keeping all these in mind, I would like to share a journey of my life before I say anything else.
My journey to come to the U.S. started back in 1994 when my parents got a diversity visa to come here as an immigrant. But due to family complications, they couldn’t come. In 2013, I was in my Junior year back in my country when my mother processed my documents to get my student visa. I had to quit college and come here with a scholarship to fulfill her dreams. But due to not having enough financial support, and to keep my visa valid, I had to change many schools. I have so many I20s that I do not think anyone has it. I was lost when I came here and lost another 2 years of my life. Finally, in 2015, I could start over and in 2017, I earned my Associate degree with a 3.84 GPA. Then I did my Optional Practical Training for a year and went back home in 2018.
Photo taken in 1994 for DV Visa and my first Passport!
Return to the U.S.
In 2019, I returned to Queens college and tried to transfer my credits. But I was told that the analysis will take a long time and then I contacted John Jay College and they have helped me with their highest effort and got my credits transferred in 3 days! I started my Junior Year again and currently, my major is Computer Science & Information Security. I am now a Senior. A new journey of my life began.
Problems I have faced as an International Student
In this journey, I have faced many problems that a resident student never faces. The process of getting a visa, maintaining status, not having permission to work, shortage of on-campus jobs, higher tuition fees, not getting good housing facilities, and many more. Every step, there was money involved to get something done and the amount is much higher than for a resident student.
From the very first day at John Jay College, I actively looked to find a job and started working with the international students’ association to understand how other students like me are surviving. I got to know many stories that touched my heart. I wanted to do something for them. Luckily, I got an on-campus job at the CUNY Central Office. Last year, I actively worked with the international student’s office at John Jay to arrange Tax Workshops on my campus.
I continuously tried to get some funds from the student government to make the workshop successful. Then I realized, there was not even a budget for International Students!!! How unfortunate, the highest paying, the highest revenue earning, and the highest graduation retention making group of students doesn’t have funding! I tried to find scholarships for International Students as they are not eligible for any kind of federal funds or aid. It became another nightmare. It looks like for a small scholarship, there are thousands of applicants because the number of scholarships for international students is very limited.
Representing International Students
Having gone through all these, I applied to become the International Representative at my campus, and alongside, I wanted to join USS so that I can advocate for this underserved but one of the most important communities in CUNY. I got elected as International Rep and USS Undergraduate Alternate Delegate. I also got elected as the Vice President of the International Students Association of John Jay College. Currently, I am serving John Jay Student Govt. as the Chair of the International Students Committee along with seven other members, where we try to find the possible issues and solutions of this student group and bring those reports to the Student Council for bringing changes or getting things done. Aside from that, I serve as a voting member at the Student Representation Committee which is responsible for recruiting committee members at John Jay Student Council. I also contribute to the Committee on Budget as a voting member and help to make important financial decisions on budgets.
I have worked with the current USS Vice-Chair of International Students Affairs Nicole Agu who has nominated me for this position. I have talked to all the Directors of the International Students Office from each CUNY College to understand the difficulties students are facing. I advocated for In-State tuition fees when the pandemic hit us badly. I am advocating for extended emergency funding for international students. I also advocated for getting capped tuition fees for international students. I worked with the University Director of International Student & Scholar Services at CUNY Central to find housing arrangements for the new students who just started their journey in the U.S. I also would like to work on the CUNY Coalition to make sure we have a database of current international students so that we can have close contact with them and hear their issues directly.
I want to represent these students as the Vice-Chair of International Students Affairs in the USS so that I can get the structural support to raise the problems and show the possible solutions to the decision-makers. Not only for the international students, but also I want to dedicate myself to anyone who needs help, like immigrants, undocumented students, or any underserved communities. I would like to continue working on the issues which Nicole already started.
CUNY is a very diverse space for education. Togetherness is the strength of CUNY. But somewhere there are still some legislative gaps in the representation of the International Students community as well as Undocumented students group. I would love to continue working with the Vice-Chair for Legislative affairs to expand CUNY Citizenship Now resources for undocumented students. I want to make sure that from my position, I am representing everyone, but at the same time focusing on the responsibilities my position brings upon me.
Capped tuition fees for International Students
Scholarship and Job Opportunities in CUNY
CUNY-wide International Students Alumni Association
But I will not do all these tasks alone. Although working alone will make me faster, working with a team and a strong goal will take me further. A strong team can make things successful and bring changes for a better future. Let’s move CUNY Forward together.