Graduate students are at the heart of UCLA’s academics.
That’s worryingly easy to forget – something graduate students themselves might forget given the university’s treatment of them.
Luckily, the soon-to-be Graduate Students Association vice president of academic affairs wants to challenge that.
The board endorses Shrinidhi Balasubramanian as the next vice president of academic affairs for her enthusiasm to increase transparency about the graduate experience on behalf of the administration and introduce straightforward, actionable platforms to that effect.
Balasubramanian’s primary platform pertains to transparency for incoming graduate students and their recruitment. She wants to highlight the university’s inconsistency in announcing the availability of teaching assistant positions, specifically the widespread need among graduate students to self-fund given the slim chances of obtaining one. She plans to advocate for open communication of campuswide historical data about TA positions.
She also has spoken about the need to advertise university housing, ensuring more students are informed about their chances of being granted housing by UCLA and about the price tag attached to it – an insidiously increasing value that harms both students and the university.
The first-year Master of Business Administration student also wants to increase visibility of interdepartmental graduate schools, and promote collaboration between schools where subjects have interdisciplinary crossovers, such as business and education.
While she is relatively knowledgeable of the GSA’s procedures from her current position as a representative, she does not have any real ideas about pushing policy in the Academic Senate – a key part of her role.
Everything from the minors offered at UCLA to the policies faculty and TAs must abide by are dictated by the senate. A key part of pushing for better treatment of graduate students is ensuring the proper accommodations are voted in by faculty. A key tool Balasubramanian will have at her disposal is the ability to affect student appointments to academic committees – she’ll have to do her homework to learn how to best wield it when she comes into office.
Still, her ideas are encouraging. She is running with the Moving Forward slate, which has a principal mission of affordable housing and engagement. Balasubramanian’s platforms adhere to that philosophy and are very much welcomed at a university that all too often helps us forget the real reason for its research and educational accolades.