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GSS discusses veterans

With a dense assortment of committees on campus, adding one more to the mixture doesn’t seem like a far stretch.

Both the Graduate Student Senate and the Undergraduate Student Government believe that the creation of a University Veterans and Armed Forces Committee would be very beneficial to students and faculty alike.

The idea for this legislation, proposed Friday afternoon by GSS Representative-at-Large Stephen Swanson, originally came from Kevin Stevens, the USG off-campus student representative.

Swanson said that the problem with not having a committee like this on-campus is that the issues involving veterans or students in the armed forces are spread out and dealt with individually.

“This means that we do not really hear about what the problems are,” Swanson said. “So, the first goal of the committee would be to really find out what problems there are and might be in the future.”

Some problems Swanson said the committee might tackle are issues dealing with “deployment and activation of students currently in the armed forces, National Guard or the reserves; and issues relating to financial aid; and the payment of bursar bills in such a way as to coordinate with the distribution of VA or GI bill funding.”

Swanson also mentioned student life issues the committee might undertake like “living arrangements or potential discrimination on the basis of their affiliation with the military.”

As for why graduate students should be interested in this legislation, Swanson gave two main reasons.

“One, as graduate members of the BG community, we should care about the well-being of our fellow students, staff and faculty, regardless of whether it affects us directly,” he said. “And two, it is easy to imagine that with the increase in military activity in the world today that the number of future students with military experience will increase.”

Swanson concluded that this would also mean that the number of graduate students with military experience will also increase. Therefore, “it would be better for the University to be proactive in finding and fixing current and potential problems in the system before it becomes a larger problem.”

The legislation had its first reading Friday and will be voted on during the GSS meeting on April 7.

Another parallel interest among both GSS and USG is the prevention of sweatshop labor.

A draft of a letter presented by Chelsea Lambdin, senior, was voted on and passed, with only 6 abstentions at the meeting.

The letter’s main goals are to encourage the University – particularly the University Bookstore – to become involved in the Workers Rights Consortium in addition to its present membership in the Fair Labor Association and to form a University committee to “further explore the issue of sweatshop labor and ways we can assist in its abolition.”

The WRC is a “non-profit organization comprised of college and university administrators, students and labor rights experts. This broad-based coalition shares BGSU’s history of shared governance ” the WRC provides its affiliates with an opportunity to sit on the board and help to influence the future of the organization,” the letter said.

Lambdin believes that this issue is very significant to the University and should be seriously considered.

“This is so important, especially with everything that’s gone on with the Board of Trustees not listening to student voices in policy decisions,” Lambdin said, adding that with the letter passing in both USG and GSS, it is clear that this is something students want and support.

“It would be a complete injustice for the university to refuse this, not only for the students on our campus, but for those that could be helped by this worldwide,” Lambdin said.

While the letter commends the University’s involvement with the FLA, Lambdin said that because it’s a for-profit organization, there are parts of it that don’t work as well because people can be paid to let some things go unnoticed or pay less attention to certain problems it’s people uncover. Therefore, Chelsea said that the best way to tackle sweatshop labor is to join both organizations.

“It is simply an unsatisfactory move to merely join one of these groups when it’s been said, even by the director of the FLA, that [the] universities’ best option is to become affiliated with both the WRC and FLA,” Lambdin said. “They are two very distinct organizations with different practices ” both are needed to fully ameliorate the problem of sweatshop labor and BGSU’s connection to it.”

Lambdin has talked to Jeff Nelson, director of the University Bookstore about joining the WRC and said that while he was open to hearing her, she fears that “he is not truly listening.”

Lambdin also said that the cost of joining the WRC is equivalent to that of the FLA, which is $1,500 and that a total of $3,000 for joining both organizations is nothing compared to how many people it would help and how much stronger the University’s commitment to human rights and equality would be.

“This is nothing new to colleges and universities ” there are 76 that are currently members of both,” Lambdin said. “It is clear that affiliating with the WRC is common sense to nearly all undergraduates, and now graduate students. Now we need to find out why it’s not so common sense to our administration.”

On a more lighthearted note, speed dating for graduate students is coming to the Black Swamp Pub. Kelly Lang, GSS student affairs representative, made the announcement and said it would be a new and fun way for graduate students to meet and get to know one another.

The event will be on April 11 and is from 7 to 11 p.m., but the actual speed dating will be from 8 to 10 p.m.

Anticipation of the GSS elections for positions including president, vice president and secretary is also growing for the senators, which will be held this Friday, April 7.

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