by Bekah Ervin
Recently, Christina Phillips resigned from her position as the international student advisor. According to a campus-wide email from Vice President for Enrollment and Communications Rob Alexander, Phillips “decided to leave Millsaps after being admitted to several prestigious graduate programs which begin this summer.” The international students expressed, through a petition, that there was more to the resignation than the administration led students to believe. According to the petition, which can be found here, “due to increases in admission duties and restrictions in her workplace, Ms. Phillips has been prohibited from performing the job that she originally did. These changes have led to her feeling extremely pressured. As a result, Ms. Phillips has turned in her letter of resignation.”
Joonha Noh, an international student from South Korea, said that he chose Millsaps because of its ranking in the top 40 “Colleges That Change Lives” educational guide. Noh credits his great experience at Millsaps to the work of Phillips. As a sophomore, he has had plenty of time to establish a trusting relationship with Phillips, as well as many of the other international students. “Without Christina, I wouldn’t be comfortable here,” he said. “As international students, we feel like we don’t always fit in somewhere because we are a minority group at Millsaps.”
Noh also shared that, since Phillips was once a student in Japan, she has an incredible insight on the struggles of being an international student. She not only was part of their documentation processes, but she also helped them with their day-to-day struggles like language barriers and cultural differences. “She wasn’t just an international student advisor…She was our friend too,” he said.
Many of these international students feel as though they are being deprived of the services they had while Phillips was in the position. According to the petition, “Student Life or International Education would be better offices for the international student advisor to work in.” Since the admissions office restricted Phillips to specific duties, the petition proposes that the position be removed from the office of admissions.
Noh shared that many of the international students will be meeting with President Robert Pearigen sometime this week to propose that they be part of the process to find a new advisor. He said, “Christina is impossible to replace, but we would like to be part of the process to find someone we believe would give us the services we deserve.”