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Graduate Student Senate discusses grant review compensation, pedestrian safety

Oct. 9, 2007

By Eva Simeone

Ohio University's Graduate Student Senate unanimously passed two resolutions Monday evening calling for compensation for its grant review committee and for the formation of a comprehensive pedestrian safety action plan.

The Graduate Student Senate grant fund currently offers two grants to graduate students: the original works grant, which supports original research or creative projects, and the travel grant, which typically supports travel to conferences. The 10 members of the grant review committee review applications for the original works grant. The grant review committee chair narrows down applications for the travel grant, which are ultimately determined by drawing. Both grants are maintained through the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

The resolution passed Monday states that Graduate Student Senate has faced challenges in filling grant review positions because they require at least 40 hours of work. Providing compensation for grant reviewers and the grant review chair would increase the quality of the grant evaluations and the accountability individuals who hold the positions, says Dominic Barbato, lead sponsor of the resolution and president of Graduate Student Senate.

"It's a considerable time commitment for the grant reviewer," Barbato said. "It really is a strain on anyone when you're putting in so many hours."

Karen Greiner, representing the College of Communication, passed out examples of recent grants at the senate meeting. "Each of these takes a lot of time, and it all comes at the end of the quarter," she said.  "(Providing compensation) will hold people accountable."

The other approved resolution calls for the development and implementation of a comprehensive pedestrian safety action plan. To achieve this, the senate requests that the current joint city-university task force addressing transportation issues form a pedestrian safety subcommittee, comprised of members of the Athens community and university faculty, staff, students and administrators.

Lead sponsor and College of Arts and Sciences Senator Alyssa Thomas said that while university members support a pedestrian safety action plan, none have taken the initiative to develop and implement one.

"Everyone seems willing to work," Thomas said. "This is trying to get everyone on the same page and organized. It's a pressing issue, especially because this is a pedestrian campus."

Kellen Murphy, a representative for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, supported the resolution, citing the recent death of a student in his department in a pedestrian traffic accident.

The resolution serves as a proactive, rather than reactive, step toward safety, Thomas said. In a unanimous vote, the resolution passed without much debate.

Graduate Student Senate also discussed the five-year academic plan and related budget planning as it affects graduate education and research. Senate members expressed concern over how the proposed budgets were calculated. 

"There's some confusion as to how people come to the conclusion that $1.5 million would be appropriate for graduate education and research, and where the money comes from," Barbato said. 

He said he plans to invite university officials to the next Senate meeting to answer questions of concern .

The five-year academic plan and related financial plan are scheduled for presentation to the Board of Trustees in December. The senate moved to discuss other aspects of the document during the next several meetings.

In other meeting highlights:

  • Barbato plans to analyze university health benefits at Ohio University compared to those at other universities. He said that Stephen Oechsle , the new commissioner for graduate student life, will work with him to conduct and interpret this research. 
  • Barbato announced that an additional graduate representative has been added to the Student General Fee Advisory Committee. 

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