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Group approves chairperson

Paul Spadafora | Friday, April 15, 2005

In the final Graduate Student Union meeting of the 2004-2005 academic year, the GSU approved a constitutional amendment and proposed new graduate student benefits, in addition to reviewing the year’s big events.

The GSU voted 9-2 to approve a constitutional amendment that adds a new committee chair to the GSU. Outgoing GSU president John Young said the External Affairs chair will represent the GSU in two distinct ways.

“It’s a two-pronged office,” Young said. “One is to attend to external issues that are important to us … the office will be a liaison to the National Association for Graduate and Professional Students (NAGS). The second part is community outreach: it’s very vaguely described for a purpose. It’s up to the discretion of the chair.”

The GSU president also talked about upcoming legislation in Congress that will impact graduate student interests. Young especially focused on the Higher Education Act, and the impact it will have.

“The Higher Education Act, under title IV, states that students that take out loans can consolidate them at a fixed interest rate. [This legislation] needs to be renewed periodically by Congress,” Young said. “The current political climate is such that there is strong motivation in Congress to not renew the act.”

Young said the GSU will continue to aid the NAGS in the group’s lobbying efforts in Congress.

The outgoing GSU administration also reviewed the year’s significant events, and evaluated the union’s goals for the future. Among the major events of the year mentioned were the GUS parking survey and health insurance vote. The GSU parking survey was conducted for two months in the 2004 fall semester. “According to the students, approximately 75 percent of graduate students are dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with parking,” Young said.

The GSU will be working with the ad hoc parking committee in the next year to arrange a parking situation that meets the needs of the graduate students.

The GSU also reviewed the health insurance issues of the year. Outgoing health insurance chair Erica Pirnie cautioned that while the current health insurance policy for the upcoming year will retain all benefits with an added increase in premiums, the University may soon be unwilling to continue without cutting benefits.

“Next year during negotiations, we may have to start reducing some benefits to keep the premium increases below 18 percent annually.” Pirnie said.

In closing, the outgoing GSU president and vice presidents outlined their hopes for next year’s administration.

Amanda Matthews, co-vice president, said she would like to see more graduate student representation on the Faculty Senate.

“We need to represent the function of graduate students as teachers,” Matthews said.

Young said the goals of the GSU have changed.

“Not only are we a social organization, but we are now a service organization,” he said. “On the whole, the outlook for the GSU is extremely positive.”

After the formal end of the school year, the current GSU administration’s term will end. President-elect Misty Schieberle and co-vice president-elects Amanda Matthew sand Tim Schoenharl will take office after May 6.