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GSA elects new president

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 36 - July 25, 1996

During their June meeting, the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) elected a new president and debated how to involve more graduate students.

Mike Schroder, who had been elected president, is unable to serve since taking a full-time job. Vice President John Aughenbaugh declined to serve as president, pointing out that he is chairing the Commission on Student Affairs this year.

Delia Grenville, a master's student in industrial systems engineering, was elected president. She has been active on the College of Engineering magazine, committees against racism, and the Black Graduate Student Association.

Grenville's undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering from Queen's University. She worked for five years as a logistics analyst before returning to graduate school. "I look upon the presidency of the GSA as a challenge to put into practice what I have learned as a student and in the work force," she said.

She identified the issues before the GSA as funding for graduate students and recognition of graduate students as part of the university community. "It is important to participate in the university community. We also have done a lot of good through our outside work, and should continue to do so." She also wants to make the transition of new GSA officers easier and to increase student involvement.

Regarding student involvement, Paula Williams pointed out the lack of a quorum. Aughenbaugh said there is rarely a quorum because some departments have never elected delegates to the GSA. That was the theme also during the discussion of agenda items for 1996-97.

"We should at least have a full delegate body," said Sam Peavy. "No representation is not a good thing at any level."

Voula Saridakis suggested that each delegate bring one or two more graduate students to each meeting. Aughenbaugh agreed this would also help disseminate information.

"It's good to bring people to the meetings, but then what do they see?" asked Catherine Pinson. "The agenda is often GSA business and filling committees and commissions.... Are they going to see something that will make them want to come back?"

Peavy suggested getting more graduate students on the list serve or on an e-mail list. "There are only 168 students on the list-serve. Can we get 2,000 to 3,000 names so we can let them know what's going on?"

John Eaton, associate provost for graduate studies and GSA advisor, suggested identifying concerns by occasionally breaking up the delegate body into focus groups. "It would be one way to receive input and to allow individuals to become acquainted."

"Departments are the key in communicating issues up and back," said Bryan Rowland. "We can do a lot, once the issues are identified."

It was suggested that delegates visit departments during orientation sessions for new graduate students, that department social organizations be approached, that the kick-off social be more widely publicized, that department heads be contacted in person rather than by letter, and that there be a first-of-the-year campaign on what the issues are and what roles individuals can play to address the issues. Health insurance and taxing tuition waivers were raised as two issues.

Aughenbaugh invited students to provide further suggestions to the Executive Board by calling the GSA office at 1-7919.

In other business:

* Aughenbaugh reported that graduate students are still needed as members of several university commissions and committees. A student need not be a GSA delegate to participate. Individuals who would like more information about the positions available and the commitment involved may e-mail him at Aughie@VT.edu or call the GSA office.

* Rajiv Khosla reported that 68 applicants have submitted requests for more than $19,000 from the Travel Fund Project. The TFP has $6,250. For more information, e-mail GSA.Travel@vt.edu..

* Grenville reported there have been 39 applications for Graduate Research Development Project funding. Awards for GRDP funds are made in blind reviews by faculty members.