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ND students focus on graduate conference

Paul Spadafora | Thursday, November 18, 2004

Attendance at the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students conference and upcoming legislation in the U.S. congress concerning graduate students were the main concerns at Tuesday’s Graduate Student Union meeting.

President John Young and co-vice president Amanda Matthews talked with the other GSU members about the recent conference by the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students in Pittsburgh.

“NAGPS serves two functions. The first is to meet the needs of International Graduate students on campuses across the nation, and the second function is to act as a lobbying group for graduate student interests in Congress,” Young said.

Matthews said she felt that the conference helped to foster good working relationships with other graduate students and contacts from other schools.

“Our objective was to seek out and make contacts with those organizations, and we were able to achieve that,” she said.

After the overview of NAGPS’ main functions, Young also discussed two pieces of legislation up for consideration in the coming year that the NAGPS will focus on. The outcome of both pieces of legislation, Young said, would be extremely important for graduate student interests in the future.

The first would make all future graduate student stipends tax exempt. The second, which will be addressed later in the U.S. Congress’ agenda, is the renewal of the Higher Education Act.

“Title IV of the Higher Education Act states that students can consolidate loans at a fixed interest rate. If that title isn’t renewed, it will make it much more difficult for students to pay off their loans.” Young said.

He proposed that Notre Dame send graduate students to Congress later in the year to help the NAGPS with their lobbying efforts.

“I think we [The GSU] have the funds to send a few graduate students from Notre Dame to help lobby” Young said. “[This legislation] is something that has been in the works for 4 or 5 years, and it would behoove us to be involved in this.”

Matthews said the NAGPS conference provided a way for graduate students to help promote their needs in a setting where they can be effective.

“We think that Graduate students have a very strong voice, we just need that to be represented within our national government.” Matthews said.

“We think that if we give our students an opportunity to speak we feel that they can voice our concerns clearly and strongly. We’re just trying to provide the means and mode of communication.”

In other GSU news:

u The initial details of this year’s annual GSU blood drive were discussed in the meeting. A tentative date of Feb. 3 was proposed for the blood drive. Erica Pirnie, Health Care Committee Chair, said the GSU blood drive was an excellent way to promote Graduate Student civic participation.

“It’s something that helps get Graduate Students involved in [aiding] their country,” she said.

u The GSU Social committee has begun planning events for the Spring semester. Some of the events that the GSU is considering for the graduate students are an Easter brunch, Mardi Gras party, wine tasting and attendance at various theater events around South Bend. Social chair Krupa Hegde encouraged the council to submit other ideas.