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ASUA, GPSC members at odds following proposal confusion

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Lili Steffen and Lili Steffen | The Daily Wildcat Lili Steffen / Arizona Daily Wildcat Zachary Brooks, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, presents an argument to have graduate student representatives in the Associated Students at the University of Arizona, Wednesday. Currently ASUA represents the undergraduate student population.

Student government members are at odds following confusion over a proposal to change ASUA bylaws.

The specific bylaw change proposed stated that Associated Students of the University of Arizona would serve as the representative student government for undergraduates, while the Graduate and Professional Student Council would serve as the exclusive representative student government for graduate and professional students.

At the ASUA meeting on Wednesday, GPSC members said they wanted their organization recognized as the sole advocate for graduate and professional students.

Although no vote took place, GPSC sent a press release shortly after the meeting stating that ASUA had decided to “ignore the needs of graduate students.” In the release, GPSC President Zachary Brooks said the next step will be to continue the process by asking President Ann Weaver Hart to form a committee that will “review and ask for a change to the ASUA constitution in regards to this issue.”

Brooks presented to the ASUA Senate survey results that he had compiled, which showed that out of 580 graduate students polled, only four answered that they felt ASUA represented them. The numbers were compiled through randomized surveys given online and on the UA Mall.

Additionally, Brooks said 99.3 percent of people who took the survey signed a petition to gain advocacy for GPSC. Brooks said his ultimate goal is for graduate students to serve graduates themselves.

“We presented and [ASUA] didn’t comment at all and then moved on to the next thing, so we took it as … they’re not looking at it,” Brooks said.

Brooks added that he believed the presentation at the meeting was an informational item and when senators did not discuss it, he said he thought it died.

ASUA Sen. Diego Alvarez said Brooks’ presentation dealt with why members felt GPSC should be a separate entity. Alvarez said senate members will take in the presentation, talk about it and ask questions to better inform themselves.

“Senate will just talk about it,” Alvarez said. “We’re trying to think up questions for him and trying to see where we can go from here together as a senate.”

ASUA President Morgan Abraham said an issue must be adopted by a senator before it can become an action item and be voted on. A senator can adopt a bylaw change, which will then be presented as an information item. A week later it will be presented as an action item and the senate can then vote on the implementation, he said.

“I don’t know where the disconnect was,” Abraham said. “What Zach Brooks requested was a presentation … He presented; there was never really supposed to be any debate or discussion.”

Abraham said no formal bylaw change was drafted and that he was under the impression it was only a presentation for Brooks to express his opinion to the senate. Abraham added that there is typically no discussion or debate following a presentation.

“I almost feel bad for administration … now Zach’s dragging people who really aren’t affected by this into the conversation very prematurely,” Abraham said. “It makes me very sad and concerned.”

In the press release, Brooks said GPSC seeks partnership with ASUA, “not patronage by ASUA.”

“They made their decision. We predicted they would do something like this,” Brooks said. “For now, we’re just going to move forward … the whole effort tonight was to be a real partner and be seen as a partner, but we don’t feel like we’re partners.”

— Emily Bregger contributed reporting to this article.

- Follow Brittny Mejia @BrittnyAriel


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