Graduate Student Assembly passes resolution reaffirming stance on graduate student representation in Student Government

Joelle DiPaolo, News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 5, 2022 flipbook.

The Graduate Student Assembly passed a resolution March 23 reaffirming their stance that Student Government should cede representation of graduate students. 

The GSA voted for SG to cede their graduate students representatives in November because SG provides little representation for graduate students, outgoing GSA president Alex Sexton said. Currently, there are three graduate student representatives in SG. Sexton said their reaffirmation followed the Dean of Students’ decision to halt joint resolutions. 

“In the suspension order, it was made explicit that Student Government is number one, and that essentially, Senate and GSA are subordinate to Student Government,” said Sexton, a social work graduate student. “It is just very uncomfortable for us to have the reality that an undergraduate student who no graduate student voted for can overrule the Graduate Student president.” 

Student body president Leland Murphy said SG plans to include legislation in their reform package to cede graduate student representation. Murphy said he wants to respect the GSA’s wishes while taking the current graduate representatives’ opinions into account. 

“How can we best support this effort and make sure they feel heard and valued and that their wishes are respected while also making sure that the grad students that we currently have in our assembly are also not removed quickly,” government junior Murphy said. 

Sexton said SG should either cease representation after the next general election or move the current graduate representatives to the GSA for the rest of their term. 

“We don’t want to kick them out of the (legislative student organization) LSO world,” Sexton said. 

Joyleen Sanchez, a graduate student representative, said while she wants graduate students to be represented, she also wants to be a part of SG. 

“I feel bad because I feel like I’m stuck in a really weird place where if I wasn’t in SG, I would totally be on the side of the graduate students,” said Sanchez, a public affairs graduate student. “(But) I signed up to be in Student Government. And if I spend half of the year learning the ropes of Student Government, I selfishly do not think I could go to the other side.” 

Sanchez said she would be interested in working with both LSOs. 

“I’d love to help (the GSA) as much as possible,” Sanchez said. “(I would) maybe even spend half my time with them, half of my time with Student Government, but I would not fully leave Student Government.” 

Sexton said because graduate students have different concerns than undergraduate students, such as dissertation defense policies, it does not make sense for a legislative body made up of primarily undergraduates to represent them. 

“I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask SG to understand it,” Sexton said. “They have their own fights to handle.” 

Sexton said he is concerned about the legislation getting lost in the reform bill, as well as the Dean of Student’s reaction. 

“If the reform bill tackles 100 different things, then this relatively small thing could easily get drowned out,” Sexton said. 

Murphy said he thinks the change could be beneficial because each LSO can work on their specific area.

“I think it’ll change the dynamic a little bit,” Murphy said. “We can all focus more on our niches, and we can, for those bigger advocacy efforts, come together.”