First GSS meeting discusses top three concerns for the year

Hannah Sparling and Hannah Sparling

The Graduate Student Senate kicked off the new semester in their first meeting last Friday by focusing on plans for the future.

There were no official items on the agenda, but GSS President Emmanual Guillory told members to start thinking about what they would like to accomplish during the spring semester and how they plan to get it done.

“There are no [official] items for new business,” Guillory said. “That does not mean we’re not doing anything.”

GSS members discussed plans for their top three concerns: making professional development funding more accessible, increasing the stipend level for graduate students and working a dental option into the health care plan for graduate students. The Senate also discussed future legislation topics, including the possibility of housing for graduate students only and increasing the expectations for advisors in the program.

Guest speaker Joseph Oravecz, associate vice president for Student Affairs, told GSS members the only way they would accomplish those and other goals for the semester would be by working together and getting to know each other and the groups they represent. In order to accurately be a voice for graduate students, GSS members need to know who they are representing, he said.

“Some of you might know who you are sitting next to; some of you might not care,” he said. “[But] as a community of learners we’re not available to advance our institution if we don’t see who is around us.”