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UA Creates SEVIS ‘Watchdog’ Group

By Christine R. Fry


The Undergraduate Association will organize a “watchdog” committee to monitor information reported to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

The SEVIS Auditing Committee, which was created with a vote of 16-3 at last week’s UA meeting, will request that MIT publish a list of what is being reported to SEVIS.

“The group would be able to pore over these reports and report on it” to the MIT community, said Pius A. Uzamere II ’04, the Next House UA Councilor who proposed the resolution creating the committee. The committee would not see any personal information that is reported.

If the committee discovered that excessive information is reported, then they would publicize the Institute’s “unacceptably invasive method of compliance,” as the resolution states.

“This is making sure that there’s accountability,” Uzamere said.

The time frame for putting the auditing committee in place is not yet known by Uzamere. He said that he should have a better idea after he speaks to the appropriate administrators and students this week.

GSC, UA to collaborate on SEVIS

Uzamere said the UA advised that work should begin immediately to form the auditing committee. This week he will begin to work with Christiane Struve G, the chair of the Graduate Student Council Academics, Research, and Careers Committee, to get the GSC involved in the committee.

Struve could not be reached for comment.

H. Sanith Wijesinghe G, president of the GSC, said the GSC wants to ensure that information is correctly reported to SEVIS.

“We want to make sure that everything is input accurately,” Wijesinghe said.

“There’s two components of [what is being reported],” Wijesinghe said. “The student needs to put in the biographical information and the second is what is being input behind us” about basic registration information.

Wijesinghe said that the new auditing committee would help monitor the latter information that is reported.

Empathy inspires resolution

Uzamere decided to propose a SEVIS monitoring group after speaking with his international student friends about SEVIS.

“It didn’t really seem right to me,” Uzamere said.

“I tried to put myself in their shoes,” Wijesinghe said. He said that the UA has the responsibility to act in students’ interest by looking over the administration’s shoulder.

“At least I think [the UA SEVIS auditing committee] provides a channel for students to communicate with the college,” said Ruby Y. Lau ’04, former president of the International Student Association. “I think that if this group is visible to international students, it will be a good thing.”

SEVIS tracks internationals

SEVIS is a system created by the Immigration and Naturalization Service that compiles information on international students studying at American universities. Universities are required to begin sending biographical and class registration information to SEVIS on Feb. 15. MIT has pledged to report only the minimum required information to SEVIS.