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Graduate Student Council Senate discusses transportation fee increase referendum at March meeting

Graduate Student Council Senate discusses transportation fee increase referendum at March meeting

Graduate Student Council Senate discusses transportation fee increase referendum at March meeting
March 04
10:00 2020

At the March 3 meeting on Tuesday, the Graduate Student Council Senate discussed a referendum that proposed to increase the transportation fee for students by $2.50 — from $3.50 to $6 per credit. 

“This is not a bill or a resolution,” GSC President Tiffany Miller said. “This is a referendum. Referendums go before the entire student body.”

Transportation talked to the GSC senate at the January meeting and the referendum stems from those conversations, Miller said. 

After senators passed a motion to move into a period of questioning, two senators asked about having separate credit hour caps for undergraduate and graduate students — specifically, graduate students would have a maximum cap of 12 credit hours while undergraduate students would have a cap of 15 credit hours. 

“So this is the way that they’ve worded it currently,” Miller said. “I think it is a good point to bring up and I think we could probably make that amendment.”

After discussing the credit hour cap limit, Miller discussed the Transportation department’s budget. 

“From the discussion before [in January], Transportation right now has a $3.6 million budget,” Miller said. “They generate revenues of $3 million. That means they are $600,000 in the hole every year…they borrow $600,000 every year from parking. So part of the hope with raising the fee on transportation specifically is that they can actually have a whole budget and not be starting at a deficit.”

Raising the fee from $3.50 to $6 would give the Transportation department a budget that does not start at a deficit for the next five years, according to Miller. 

“And then within five years, they’re going to have to start looking at either another increase or something else,” Miller said. “Because within five years, they’re going to outpace usage with this fee.”

Other business

The GSC senate also confirmed a new senator at their March meeting — Elizabeth Ramon, from the College of Education. 

“I heard there was a shortage so I immediately felt compelled to volunteer,” Ramon said. “I have a lot of experience in organization and planning and I thought that those skills might be useful here.”

After confirming Ramon and discussing the transportation fee increase referendum, the senate passed a bill that would allow Miller to appoint non-graduate students to ad hoc committees. 

Following officer reports and announcements from Miller and other senators, the floor was opened up to non-GSC members. Himan Namdari, a graduate student and a TA in the computer science and engineering department, spoke about the issue of graduate students’ income versus their expenses. 

“I can’t study, I can’t focus on my studies, I can’t do my research,” Namdari said. “The main cause is because most of the time I think about my financial situation.”

Miller, in a one-on-one interview with the North Texas Daily, said graduate students regularly work 40-hour weeks while only being compensated for 20 of those hours. 

Namdari and senators discussed the finances of graduate students for a little under 30 minutes before senators approved a motion to create an ad hoc committee centered around student financial concerns. After the motion to create the committee was approved, the meeting adjourned.

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

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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