With the fall semester in full swing, ASUSF Senate held its first general meeting of the academic year. The Sept. 1 meeting marked the Senate’s first in-person gathering since spring 2020. The new provost, Julia Chinyere Oparah, was their guest speaker.
The bulk of the evening’s agenda was dedicated to facilitating dialogue with Oparah and student leadership, as it was the provost’s first in-person discussion with the larger student body. “We want to be in community with you,” Oparah said to the group. “Your perspective and experience is helpful to us as we try to make change.”
Oparah began by asking the Senate what they hoped to get out of the meeting. Some, like School of Nursing and Health Professions (SONHP) Representative Sunshine Joyce Batasin, wanted to gain a better understanding of Oparah’s background. “I’m looking forward to getting to know who you are as a person,” she said. Others’ questions were more policy driven. ASUSF President Marisol Castro expressed her desire to know what the new provost “envisions” for the academic year and what, if any, changes she intends to make.
One of the largest points of conversation was the provost’s push for cooperation. Oparah shared her plans for an intimate student council of less than a dozen students, including members from the ASUSF Senate. This group would work as a close aide to herself and Vice President of Student Life Julie Orio in order to bring “together the ideas from the community with University resources,” said Oparah.
The goal of the advisory council, she said, is to find the best way to provide her support to the campus community “coming out of this,” alluding to the ongoing pandemic and its aftermath.
Oparah also shared her upcoming plans involving transfer students. She wants to create an online portal that would look and work in an “Amazon style.” The goal of the site is to make the application process easier for transfer students, particularly knowing what credits are eligible to transfer.
Additionally, Oparah shared that she is currently in communication and developing relationships with various local community colleges in hopes of making the process easier for students transferring to USF.
Oparah also briefly touched on plans of how to better distribute additional federal aid that USF receives, specifically in assisting students facing financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. She mentioned proposals of better diversifying current University hiring practices, such as looking at a professor’s lived experiences in addition to their credentials.
Megan Robertson is a sophomore media studies and performing arts & social justice double major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @megrrobertson.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the meeting as a town hall. The article has been updated to correct this mistake.