After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the creation the Department of Homeland Security, international students began to be monitored by a national tracking system known as the Student Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS. The system records where students were born, where they currently reside, what they plan on studying and where they are studying, among other aspects of their lives. SEVIS was put in place to make sure that no potential terrorists were enrolling in American schools, preventing them from attacking students or learning about scientific advances that would further enable terrorism.While the usefulness of SEVIS is not being called into question, how it will be funded is. Graduate students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst recently protested the addition of $65 to their semester tuition in order to pay for this service. Controversy over paying for the system also erupted at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago last year.

As a federal program under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, SEVIS ideally should be paid for by the federal government through federal taxes. Just like the security provided by the police, who are subsidized by tax revenue, the security provided by SEVIS should also be paid for by the nation. But since the fee has already been passed on to the universities, the question becomes who within the university should pay for this system.

It is not always feasible to expect the university administration to handle this cost by itself. Universities' budgets fluctuate depending on the amount of money in the school's grant, as well as the money brought in from donations and tuition. An institution like Brandeis-which devotes many resources to financial aid and campus improvement-does not have enough money to handle this additional fee by itself. At the same time, it is insulting to expect international students to pay for their own surveillance.

It is ironic that many students choose to study in the United States because of its reputation as the paragon of personal freedom, yet are met with an intrusive tracking system. Hopefully, SEVIS will not deter these students from coming to our country, as all students benefit from them. The different perspectives and life experiences of international students enrich our learning experience as well as our everyday lives. It is our responsibility then, as student body, to absorb this additional cost. We all benefit from SEVIS, and we should all pay for it.