Letter to the Editor: GPSC makes progress towards its goals
Dear Graduate and Professional Students,
Welcome back to school! As you may remember, right after I was sworn in as the President of the Graduate and Professional Student Council—GPSC—on September 27 2016, I wrote a letter sharing GPSC goals and our commitment to advocating on your behalf. I promised to provide updates on our progress. Although some of the goals I shared are still works in progress, we have had some successes in the last three months and I am excited to share some of those with you.
Sustaining and Expanding GPSC’s Services:
We raised approximately $40,000 in my first 50 days in office as President which will allow a 13 percent increase in the number of GPSC travel grant awardees. We also started a new partnership with the College of Engineering—COE—to streamline the application process for their students by disbursing the college’s travel grant funds using GPSC’s evaluation process.
This new partnership allows engineering students to submit a single application for both GPSC and COE’s travel grants thereby increasing their opportunity to receive funding. We hope to replicate this partnership with other colleges. We are working towards building a stronger relationships with our alumni and local organizations to help create more permanent sources of funding for our services in the near future.
Addressing Food Insecurity amongst UA Students:
We have made both financial and material contributions to the Campus Pantry . We acknowledge ASUA’s effort to make the pantry one of its programs thereby creating more opportunities for expansion and we are committed to supporting that effort. We have also continued to work with the leadership of the Student Union Memorial Center to explore options that will provide steady source of contribution for the Pantry and opportunities for students to contribute to the Pantry on a regular basis.
Expanding Our Outreach:
We recently created a seat for the College of Medicine-Phoenix students in our General Council . We are also working toward collaborating with graduate student club leaders and the Cultural Centers in hope of reaching out to more graduate students. We hosted the Arizona Board of Regents—ABOR—president Klein and board chair regent Patterson on November 15 as an effort to draw the Board’s attention to graduate student specific issues. We have also revised our constitution to include a stronger commitment to fight for equity and inclusion for all students.
Towards the end of last semester we started discussions with the leadership of Faculty Senate to organize a listening tour between Faculty members and graduate students as part of our effort to achieving our Sexual Assault and Title IX Harassment Awareness goal. Although Mental Health Awareness was not part of the goals I shared previously, we are now focusing on addressing this issue. Data reveals that an alarming large number of graduate students struggle with mental health issues. We hope to work with the University to address this health concern.
On a different note, tuition and fees increases seem to have become a yearly tradition. However, we have remained committed in working with the UA leadership to ensure that such increases remain reasonable and that total cost of living is commensurate with graduate student compensations. We have also emphasized graduate students objections to pay any new mandatory fees that do not directly impact or benefit us. To further access your opinions about all fees, we plan to conduct a fees survey soon. Please participate in the survey as it helps us advocate accordingly on your behalf.
Following the November elections, we are aware of the concerns that have been shared by many of you and the fear that some of our fellow students now live with. While we may not be empowered to fully address some of those concerns, we will not sit back and show apathy. We have continued to emphasize to the university leadership on the need to ensure that the University remains a safe and welcoming environment for ALL students.
Speaking of advocacy, please join us on January 18 for the annual Cats at the Capitol and February 22 for a special Graduate and Professional Student Legislative session at the Capitol. Free transportation will be provided. Please contact; firstname.lastname@example.org
In about two months, we will conduct the main elections to elect new leaders for GPSC. I encourage you to run for a position and to vote. While you will not see my name on the ballot, I believe that the future holds greater things for GPSC. With new and outstanding leaders like you, we can sustain the progress we have made this term and achieve even greater feats. Remember, there will be no GPSC without people to serve in it.
Our focus in these last few months of this term will be You, You and You! My commitment of ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP to you has not changed. I will continue to emphasize on prioritizing your needs and focusing on your concerns both within the organization and to the university leadership.
As always, please feel free to reach out to us anytime if you have questions or concerns.
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