GSA needed to give grad students a voice
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2012 13:03
Every student looks forward to graduation, an event that marks a milestone in students’ lives.
However, not all students leave academia for public or private industry. A minority of qualified students reenter academia in pursuit of advanced graduate and professional degrees.
At UCF, the transition to a graduate program places students in positions where they serve as teaching assistants, research assistants, graders, instructors of record and junior colleagues to the faculty. Much of graduate education consists of self-directed study, a fact that does not lend itself well to community building. It is therefore imperative to raise the graduate and professional student voice through a Graduate Student Assembly at UCF.
The Graduate Student Association, led by students from various programs across the university, worked with the College of Graduate Studies to develop a survey assessing the needs of the graduate and professional student population. The survey mandated a reassessment of graduate representation on campus. The association took findings from this survey and presented them to Provost Tony Waldrop and Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Services Maribeth Ehasz in hopes of better serving the graduate and professional student population. A cursory look at recent reports to the provost (available at the GSA website) indicates that the primary concern of graduate and professional students, and therefore the Assembly, is not monetary, as some would lead you to believe. The primary concern is to safeguard the environment in which graduate and professional students work so that we can perform to the best of our abilities in the classroom, in the lab, in the clinic, or wherever our self-directed studies take us. The assembly will help safeguard the work environment of graduate and professional students so that we can perform to the best of our abilities in the classroom, lab, clinic or location of self-directed study.
In a recently published Opinions piece, it was suggested that there is value in discussing the financial contributions of various members of the academic community to finances of the university by reaching out to local news and editorial media. To this end, we present the following discussion on the fee schedule at UCF.
The current fee schedule for enrolled individuals at UCF outlines contributions to various fees and tuition as paid per individual. The university identifies four classes of fees to be levied on enrolled registrants of the University. These classes are delineated as follows: undergraduate, graduate, doctor of physical therapy and medical. From the fee schedule of the university, it is evident that graduate students, doctor in physical therapy students and medical students contribute a higher percentage of funds in the form of university fees and tuition per year per person than the remainder of the population. In hopes of helping establish a Graduate Student Assembly that will represent the essential collective voice of graduate and professional students, leaders from across the university, in concert with the administration, outlined a plan that culminated in an a budget proposal to the Activity and Service Fee budget committee.
The Graduate Student Assembly budget request to the Activity and Service Fee Budget Committee was made by a team of dedicated graduate and professional student leaders, as well as SGA senators. The Assembly’s budget request packet was formally initialed by Director of the Office of Student Involvement Dr. Michael Preston. This process was previously determined through a meeting between graduate student leaders, university administration, as well as SDES and OSI staff.
The total request to the Activitiy and Service Fee Budget Committee on behalf of the Assembly is $490,699.00, which is no more than about 3 percent of the total $18,900,000 Activitiy and Service Fee budget.
This amount corresponds to about 30 percent of the $1,908,929.68 in contributions by graduate students to the Activity and Service Fee.
More than $18,409,301.00 would be available for Student Government Association departments, agencies, organizations and services. More than 70 percent of funds paid to the ASF by graduate students would be overseen by the undergraduate majority currently in SGA.
Percentages were estimated from resident rates for students per credit hour as available from the Office of Institutional Research, the ASF Budget Committee and the ASF Business Office.
The strength of the Graduate Student Assembly relies on its potential to carry the collective voice of graduate and professional students essential for maintaining an enfranchised, satisfied and motivated graduate and professional student population, which is a population that helps increase overall morale at the university and its reputation in research and education.
The Assembly is essential for maintaining open lines of communication with administration on graduate and professional student needs such as day care, health insurance for graduate assistants, federal government topics such as the impact on patent filing by federal regulation, federal agency funding, publication requirements for graduation, graduate assistant time commitments to work and maintenance of a graduate student Bill of Rights.
The Assembly is a key part of a much-needed graduate and professional student voice at the university required for facilitating transparency, openness and the bi-directional flow of information between undergraduates, graduates, doctoral in physical therapy students, medical students, the faculty, the administration and the SGA.