26 Jun OIP (Office of International Programs) – 5/12
The Office of International Programs is remarkably apt as an administrative body, responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of incoming international students and outgoing Study Abroad students. Dealing with this many students requires a highly mechanized system of checked forms, signatures and paperwork to ensure that the folks down at the department for immigration are satisfied that we are all eligible to stay in the US as a student on either an F-1 or a J-1 Visa.
Due to the vast number of students this involves, and the relatively small size of the OIP, I found that they lacked a certain personal touch. I felt more like a statistic than a human during interactions, and personal circumstances (mental health history etc) are not really catered for. I would hear conflicting advice from the Disability Services that (SFSU provide) and the OIP, and in the end, I sought to avoid any interaction of a personal nature with the staff. The topic of mental health seems to panic many institutions and this became very apparent to me during my time at SFSU. I cannot speak for the wider student body obviously, but in my experience, and without going into too specific details, this is an area that requires massive improvement. Validating mental illness to others and even to yourself is hard enough without the support or understanding of your university.