North Texas Daily

GSC seeks to secede by student referendum

GSC seeks to secede by student referendum

March 04
22:47 2015

Rhiannon Saegert / News Editor

UNT’s Graduate Student Council is only about 200 signatures away from a vote that could make it a separate student organization from the Student Government Association, where it currently operates.

If the referendum passes, SGA will officially become the representative body for undergraduate students on June 1, 2015, at the beginning of the new term, while GSC becomes the representative body for graduate students.

“GSC wants to be the official voice for the graduate student population. This is not the first time this conversation has been had between the two bodies,” SGA president Kam Willard said. “What the referendum would do is take the constitution amendment that GSC is wishing to propose to our student constitution that the SGA will represent undergraduate students.”

Vice president for student affairs Elizabeth With said GSC’s secession from SGA would not effect either group’s funding.

“GSC has its own budget,” With said. “It’s always been funded by student service fees.”

In GSC’s official statement, GSC president Jesus Valero wrote that last summer both organizations met to discuss solutions for the skewed representation.

SGA agreed to secure a minimum of 10 graduate student senators to serve on the SGA Senate, but because of graduate students’ schedules, it was difficult to find senators who could attend weekly senate meetings.

SGA currently has two graduate senators, meaning less than 5 percent of the SGA Senate consists of graduate students.

“The first time I came into contact with this conversation was over the summer,” Willard said. “We sat down and there were needs that were set forth from GSC to SGA and SGA leadership did our best to honor those. There were some things that were needed, sponsorship for GSC and their events, some other things, graduate student representation within the…senate. ”

In the same statement, Valero said GSC had four main goals as a representative body: to ensure graduate students are represented in important university committees including the Student Service Fee Committee, to pursue policies that improve the graduate student experience including new parent benefits, to increase funding opportunities for graduate student travel and to co-sponsor academic and research conferences hosted by graduate student organizations.

Willard said he does not feel the current SGA administration has failed to represent graduate students.

“A large sum of money has been delivered to graduate students through Raupe Travel Grant,” Willard said. “We have put two graduate students in the senate right now that have been very active. I don’t see any necessity for a split right now.”

The issue will go to referendum if GSC collects 1,250 signatures. As of Feb. 19, 1,011 signatures had been collected. Once they have enough signatures, students can vote for or against the referendum during general SGA elections in April.

“Students will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they would like GSC to represent graduate students and SGA to represent undergraduate students, or if they’re perfectly fine with the structure that’s set in place,” Willard said.

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