Campus Law Assistant Dean of Students Kathy Fahl discusses relief initiatives for needy students with Graduate Student Senate By William Meyer Posted on September 19, 2018 8 min read 0 0 298 Graduate Student Senate Photo by William Meyer The Division of Student Affairs is working on ways to keep Ohio U’s neediest students on track for graduation. Assistant Dean of Students Kathy Fahl spoke to Graduate Student Senate on Tuesday to discuss the difficulty some students have meeting basic needs such as meal security and personal hygiene. Fahl referenced a National Hope survey Ohio University contributed to last year. According to the survey, 29 percent of students have “low, or very low” food security. Problems that factor into this issue are the lack of income provided by Pell Grants, scholarships, and federal aid. She added that the Division of Student Affairs’ response to the survey was to restructure her position to focus on basic needs for students. Fahl said Student Affairs is working on developing a sustainable food pipeline for food drives and added that Culinary Services is going to implement a meal swipe donation system during Reading Week. During this week, students with meal plans can donate up to three meal swipes to a “meal bank,” which struggling students will be able to apply for meals. Senators discussed possible improvements to the program including ways to incentivise students to donate. Senator Alyssa Rice suggested that parking services could revoke parking tickets from students who donate certain types of canned goods. Other senators suggested the program expand to include not only food, but also hygienic products. Some were concerned that students could abuse the meal donation system, but Fahl said students can only get a meal after filling out University approved paperwork. Lastly, Fahl said she is looking into a “micro-grant” program for students. The program is designed to lend a small loan to students who can’t afford a sudden calamity. “There are things that have happened to students during the course of a semester that are emergencies,” she said, citing car breakdowns, unexpected medical bills, and stolen laptops. “For some students, there’s nobody to ask for help in their life, and they don’t have the resources in their savings accounts to deal with that.” Student Affairs is actively looking for donors to secure the program. Ultimately, these programs are designed to help students complete their educations, she said. During her report, Graduate Student Senate President Maria Modayil said the health care committee, tentatively called the ‘Student Health Insurance Policy Committee,’ is discussing what student health care should look like. “The goal of the design committee is to decide what’s best for the student population,” she said. For graduate students, Ohio U’s health care is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s one of the best plans for students compared to other institutions; on the other, its quality coverage means students are paying higher rates. Right now, the committee is researching what the most basic plan would cost that would still be within the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines. Currently, students have the option to waiver Ohio U’s health insurance, provided they already have a plan. The committee hopes to conduct a survey to figure out what students want from a health care plan. “One problem that I struggle with is I don’t think a lot of us even understand what health insurance is and what it means until we get into a problem, and then we are like ‘Oh, does it cover this? And does it cover this?’” Modayil said. Modayil said it’s important to have a conversation with students to educate them on what health care means, before taking the survey. Ultimately, the goal is to find the best plan for students while also reducing the cost of the $2,000 per year plan to a more affordable price. Later, during the general body meeting, Vice President for Finance Kevin Pomorski announced he will be stepping down from his position. “When I accepted this position last semester, I thought I had more time to commit to GSS, but I don’t, as it turns out,” Pomorski said during his officer report. Modayil said she will fulfill the vacancy until the Senate decides on an interim. In other news: The Senate appointed five new members to its body: Jinawan Li will serve as the representative for Human Consumer Sciences. Travis Moleski will serve as the representative for Mechanical Engineering. David Compher will serve as the representative for Sports Administration. Rickey Larkin will serve as the commissioner for Graduate Affairs: Housing. Rachael Stroup will serve as the commissioner for Women’s Affairs.