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GSA holding planning

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 37 - July 27, 1995

Two years ago, the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) applied itself to the need for a central location on campus where students could learn about off-campus housing. Now there is an Off-Campus Housing Center in Squires. Last year, the GSA goal was graduate-student representation on the board of visitors. Dan Waddill was named this spring to represent the graduate-student community on the board.

The GSA will hold its planning retreat Thursday, August 3, from 1 to 4 p.m in Brush Mountain B, Squires, to determine goals for the coming year. In a break with the past, in addition to GSA committee chairs, any interested graduate student may attend.

Several issues were suggested during the July 13 meeting--including access to alternative, less-expensive health-insurance plans, and the right to direct a portion of one's comprehensive fee to the library, for example, rather than the Athletic Department.

It was pointed out that the Off-Campus Housing Center "is at a cross roads." "We can facilitate your search, so you can start as an educated consumer," explained Vicki Wyke. "We want to increase our financial means so we can expand our staff and services." She suggested forming a discussion group to be a sounding board for ideas and to provide advice.

In other business, GSA president Bryan Rowland reported he has met with 36 university officials so far "to talk about the GSA and what we do." He says his goal is to communicate the role of the GSA and its activities, such as the Off-Campus Housing Center, the travel fund, Graduate and Research Development Program (GRDP), and the Graduate and Professional Day.

He also plans to improve ties with other student groups, such as the African Student Association and the International Student Association.

"As a Graduate Student Assembly, we represent not only students in 70 departments, but students from I don't know how many countries and ethnic and cultural backgrounds."

Daniela Verthelyi suggested the GSA participate in international student orientation.

In other business:

* Landrum Cross, vice president for student affairs, has asked the GSA to do a survey of graduate students to identify issues. The last survey was done in 1993. A volunteer is being sought to spearhead the effort.

* The Travel Fund received 52 applications for $15,600. The fund has $6,200. Increasing that resource is one GSA goal.

* The GRDP also has $6,200 and received 20 applications for $9,200. Decisions will take about 60 days. GRDP helps students with the cost of their Ph.D. research.

* Treasurer Mike Schroder reported $1,658.89 in generated revenue. The GSA can generate its own revenue from sales, donations, and fees, he explained. Revenue is also allocated from student fees by the budget board. Because budget board funds cannot be spent on academic programs, the Graduate School provides $25,000 per year for the travel fund and GRDP. Because not all of the budget board allocation was spent last year, Schroder would like to see the revenue distributed differently. Rowland encouraged more delegates to take an interest in the budget process. "You may have more expertise."

* The Graduate and Professional Day, Oct. 11, needs about 15 volunteers. Graduate and professional programs from around the country visit campus to provide information to undergraduates during this event.

* The GSA has nominated graduate student representatives to 20 commissions and committees; nine posts remain to be filled.

* The first reading of the GSA revised constitution will be at the August 31 meeting. "I've talked to people who had concerns, and I think that will be reflected in the document," Rowland explained.

* A mentorship program, to pair undergraduate and graduate students, has been suggested to Ron Giddings in the Dean of Students office, Rowland said. He promised more information at a future meeting.

* When several students reported that some assistantship rates are being lowered, Rowland suggested students call him with such concerns and he can raise them with university administrators when he meets with them.