Graduate Student Senate discusses shuttle fee and Ph.D. funding

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

Fifth year Doctoral student funding and the proposed shuttle fee were the topics of debate at Friday’s Graduate Student Senate meeting.

Craig Zirbel, an associate professor in the Mathematics department, was in attendance to discuss the issue of Doctoral students in the Sciences (Math, Biology, Chemistry and Psychology) not receiving fifth year funding for research.

‘The state of Ohio gives funding for those students for four years and only four,’ Zirbel said. ‘That doesn’t really make a lot of sense because the median time to a degree from the bachelor’s to the Ph.D. is at least seven years in the Sciences.’

Two of those years are for a Master’s degree; that leaves five years for a Ph.D., but only four of the years are funded, he said.

By not giving fifth year funding, the entire Ph.D. program is hurt, he said. If the students are told to only do reliable research that will completed in four years, they are not doing research, he said.

‘You are doing a very big homework set, and that’s not what the Ph.D. is supposed to be about, it is supposed to be about independent research,’ he said. ‘You can’t do that on a four year schedule.’

A resolution was presented that supported ‘returning to the practice of allowing individual Science departments to allocate Graduate College funds to Doctoral candidates as they see fit, to include funding fifth year Doctoral Candidates in the Sciences.’

This was the resolution’s first reading and it will be read again before voting at the next meeting.

Another resolution opposing the proposed shuttle fee was passed.

The resolution states the GSS does not support a shuttle fee that charges everyone regardless of whether or not they use the shuttles. However, the GSS does support investigating alternative ways to present a fee, as long as shuttle usage is factored in, the resolution said.

One of the factors that led to the opposition of the fee was the lack of information provided.

‘It is up to them to provide us with the information to make a decision, we’ve been more than outgoing about trying to make sure that we get those people in and make sure those presentations happen,’ said Carl Walling, GSS President. ‘If we feel we don’t have the information to make this decision, it is not through a lack of trying on our part.’

Representative-at-Large Steve Dinda, who submitted the resolution, said more information would be coming, but only after the system is in place.

The resolution was originally tabled in order to allow more time for specifics to be determined, but it was brought back up for vote once it was discovered the next general assembly would meet after the Board of Trustees voted on the fee.’