Oct. 23, 2007
By Eva Simeone
Graduate Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday night calling for revisions to aspects of the Five-Year Academic Action Plan draft related to graduate education and research priorities.
The resolution recommends:
- A reduced graduate student general fee
- Increased funding for stipends
- An increased number of graduate assistantships and named fellowships
- Subsidized graduate assistant health insurance
- Increased Graduate Student Senate grant fund
"I think it's our responsibility as individuals who represent graduate students to make sure they're not forgotten," said Graduate Student Senate President Dominic Barbato. "If we don't get some of these initiatives into the plan, it's highly likely they won't become a priority."
Senators also discussed their reservations over the specificity of the plan's overall supporting budget. "We still don't know where this money is coming from," said senator for the College of Engineering Nihar Shah. "What if it's coming from budget cuts?"
Barbato noted that, although he shares such concerns, Graduate Student Senate faces a limited amount of time to develop and present its input. He urged senators to reach swift consensus on feedback, rather than waiting to learn more about overall budget figures.
After the meeting, Drew Pusateri, senator for the College of Education, agreed. "Given the extraordinary rapidity of this timeline, we feel that we should focus on changing the part of plan that specifically addresses graduate priorities," he said.
Barbato noted the involvement of Budget Planning Council members in drafting the Five-Year Academic Action Plan, which he suggested may help to connect inconsistencies when drafting the finalized budget.
The Action Plan Committee will incorporate recommendations from all university constituent groups into a summary document, due Nov. 15 to Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl. Krendl will assess the results and form final recommendations that, along with the Budget Planning Council report, will go to McDavis in late November. A final draft will be presented to the Board of Trustees in December.
In other meeting highlights:
- Proposed revisions to the university policy titled Use of Outdoor Space on the Athens Campus, which sets guidelines for outdoor events at 22 locations on campus, have been drafted. The revised version would permit student and community groups to protest anywhere on campus as long as the groups are not disruptive to the university community. "The university maintains a wide latitude in making that distinction, which I think they should," Pusateri said after the meeting. "Overall, this revision is much less restrictive than the original policy. I think Student Affairs deserves a lot of credit for listening to student concerns." The revised policy will be presented to Policy and Procedure Review Committee at its next meeting.
- Brittany Buxton, Graduate Student Senate vice president for committees and legislative affairs, reviewed the university's "Defining Statement," which was drafted to outline Ohio University's strengths within the University System of Ohio. Senators suggested using more tangible terms and specific examples, such as the university's high number of student Fulbright Award winners, specific interdisciplinary projects, international prominence and disability support services.