North Texas Daily

Graduate Student Council prepares to increase student health, employment, inclusivity advocacy

Graduate Student Council prepares to increase student health, employment, inclusivity advocacy

Graduate Student Council prepares to increase student health, employment, inclusivity advocacy
August 04
18:25 2020

The Graduate Student Council discussed plans to increase graduate student advocacy in the fall semester through student surveys regarding health insurance, additional focus on student employment and more inclusivity training at July’s final senate meeting.

Senator Megan Arlett is working to create a survey to collect information on the health insurance status of graduate students. The survey seeks to identify how many students have health insurance and how having insurance affects their ability to stay in school.

“We are hoping to distribute this to graduate students at large,” Arlett said. “Hopefully, once we get some tangible information that puts that landscape in perspective, we can forge ahead.”

Some examples of what survey questions will look like are: where does the student’s insurance come from, what percentage of their income do they spend on insurance and how does the presence or absence of insurance affect their quality of education.

GSC also invited undergraduate student Megan Mitchell to provide context on how COVID-19 has been impacting student workers and what the next steps to aid them should be. Mitchell’s opinion piece UNT does not care about its student workers, detailed the confusion and rapid change she said many students are feeling at this time.

The concern Mitchell talked about most at the meeting was the absence of paid sick leave for student workers.

“[The university is] encouraging people to take time off if they are feeling sick,” Mitchell said. “They’re encouraging you to not go out if you feel bad. But all of that encouraging and all of that very nice language doesn’t help if you can’t pay rent.”

Mitchell said students are unlikely to stay home if they are sick if they also will not be able to pay their bills. Mitchell said without some sort of sick pay or relief, student workers will inevitably cause an outbreak on campus.

GSC president Tiffany Miller and Mitchell had a  private meeting with the Student Government Association on July 28 to discuss how best they can address Mitchell’s concerns.

Miller is also making sure each senate member has taken training through UNT on allyship, diversity and suicide prevention. The exact training dates are still undecided. Miller said she wants the majority of it to be done before the end of the fall semester.

“Allyship goes right along with multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion,” Miller said. “You need to be thinking about all of these things to be a better advocate, and honestly to be a more well-rounded human.”

This training bleeds over into the majority of GSC’s projects, be it the creation of mental health infographics, advocating for increased support for international students or the GSC’s recent push to have both an undergraduate and a graduate student seat on each college’s committee on diversity.

Featured Image: President Tiffany Miller leads the Graduate Student Council meeting on March 3, 2020. Image by Oscar Lopez

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Matthew Lippi

Matthew Lippi

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