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Friday, October 24, 2014 | Last updated: 4:19am

ASUA President defends recent debates against organization



ASUA President Morgan Abraham said he is concerned that recent discussions over how well ASUA represents graduate students have resulted in misunderstandings about the organization.

When members of the Graduate and Professional Student Council proposed that GPSC become the exclusive representative for graduate students at an Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate meeting almost two weeks ago, it resulted in debate over how well ASUA represents undergraduate and graduate students.

“My whole frustration with the process is how ASUA is being portrayed,” Abraham said. “There’s definitely been some portraying of ASUA as all undergrads and that we’re trying to prevent GPSC from doing what they want to do.”

On Sunday, Zachary Brooks, GPSC president, said there were no updates on the proposal for a bylaw change since the Oct. 2 ASUA meeting. On Monday, Brooks declined to further comment on the issue.

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By Lili Steffen / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Lili Steffen / Arizona Daily Wildcat ASUA President Morgan Abraham presents to the ASUA senate meeting, on Oct. 2.

Abraham said the majority of feedback he has received from graduate students since GPSC proposed a bylaw change has been concern over whether it would lose access to services ASUA provides.

Graduate and undergraduate students have access to a variety of programs and services through ASUA, including Safe Ride, Pride Alliance and ZonaZoo, Abraham said.

The access to these services if the ASUA bylaws were to change falls in a “gray area,” Abraham added. However, if the bylaws were to change, graduate students would not be able to vote in the ASUA elections.

Chris Hargraves, assistant dean of students and ASUA adviser, said he has been communicating with Abraham about what’s best for ASUA, as well as communicating with GPSC Adviser Cody Nicholls. However, he said neither adviser has taken a stance on the issue.

“For me, the most ideal outcome is one that is best for both [organizations],” Hargraves said. “The best thing is for ASUA and GPSC to be able to come to an agreement.”

As of now, the ASUA senate is working on a resolution that will acknowledge GPSC as the primary, but not exclusive, advocate for graduate student needs. Abraham said ASUA is looking for partnership with GPSC on the resolution, which should be presented at the Oct. 23 ASUA meeting.

Melissa Vito, vice provost for Academic Initiatives & Student Success and senior vice president for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, said she believes most students already perceive GPSC as the primary representative of graduate students and said the decision on the issue will be left up to ASUA and GPSC.

“I think most of my colleagues see this as more of a student governance issue and not necessarily one for the administration,” Vito said. “I’m a pretty strong supporter of student governance, so I don’t want to try and dictate an outcome at this point.”

- Follow Brittny Mejia @BrittnyAriel


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