SGA unbiased; GSA is unnecessary, avoidable
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 16:02
Let me propose a question: What is a student? It's a simple question, really, with a simple answer. A person who is engaged in learning is what I would call a student. Some students learn different trades and skills than others, but they are students never the less. In my opinion, the Student Government Association is an entity designed to represent the best interests of the student body of UCF and advocate on their behalf.
Obviously with almost 60,000 students, there are a plethora of issues that students opine about, and it is the duty and responsibility of myself and other SGA members to address those issues. This brings me to my next question: When did this thing stop becoming Student Government and start becoming Undergraduate Government?
Do graduate students have different needs than undergraduate students? Absolutely. So do Rosen College students, regional students and Burnett Honors College students. The hospitality student has different needs than the engineering student, etc. To say there needs to be a new branch of student government (Graduate Student Assembly) just for graduate students is to say that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way SGA funds students. The argument should not be for another branch with more bureaucracy and red tape; instead, we should change what we have. SGA is here to address the issues of all students at the UCF, not just undergraduate students.
To say graduate students have been misrepresented or underrepresented at UCF is a farce and straight-up lie. SGA has put a tremendous amount of effort into assisting graduate student needs. Graduate students receive more funds per capita than undergraduate students; $30,000 is specifically designated to graduate student programming in Student Outreach Services. SGA makes painstaking strides to insure that our graduate assistants have tuition waivers. Graduate students also take part in utilizing normal services everyone else uses such as the Student Union, the Recreation and Wellness Center and Student Legal Services.
To say graduate students don't get their fair share is just not true. Do graduate students have certain needs that SGA should tailor to? Yes. So do many other students at UCF, and that is precisely what we do in SGA, however, we cannot put a premium on one group over another. I want to see programming geared toward graduate students and graduate student issues addressed via the legislative and executive branches as it is now.
I stated earlier, SOS is an entire entity geared toward outreaching to regional students, nontraditional students and yes, graduate students. The almost 9,000 graduate students are a quite large constituency of the student population.
Many graduate students are extremely grateful for the funds SGA provides, advocacy given and services offered. They do not give bonuses to the College of Engineering and Computer Science because many of them have five-year programs, nor do we give extra money to students who are doing honors in their respective majors. Funds are based on the merit of their programs and are allocated to assist and support all students at UCF. As a result, many students are grateful and only ask that they continue to be treated as equals and not placed on a pedestal.
Graduate students do have the second largest amount of seats on the student senate, and they do not need to have an entire separate assembly for their own funding and issues. Let's not lose sight of the idea that SGA represents all students, not just a select few and certainly not some more than others.