GSA recap – Oct. 16
By Anna Whittle
Oct. 17, 2019 5:23 p.m.
The Graduate Students Association is the voice of graduate students on campus. The association meets for forum every three weeks and takes positions on current issues affecting graduate students. Forum meetings are at 5:30 p.m. in the Global Viewpoint Lounge in Ackerman Union.
- President Zak Fisher said he issued a report to the University of California Office of the Director of Investigations regarding an alleged Student Fee Advisory Committee bylaw violation by Chancellor Gene Block. He added students have means to address matters of corruption or important rules being violated by reporting them to Graduate Students Association leaders.
- The association introduced two cabinet positions, one completely new and the other a modernization of an old position. The director of climate action, previously the director of the Sustainable Resource Center, will focus on climate emergency. The director of affordable housing will tackle the affordable housing crisis and advocate for related issues such as transportation.
- The association approved an election reform bill presented by Elections Commissioner Arpita Iddya and Fisher. The bill codified several policies such as lowering the number of signatures required to declare candidacy for cabinet positions from 50 to 30, emailing students approximately 48 hours before the election and using social media outreach in addition to posting information about the election on designated websites.
- The association passed a resolution to give them the ability to contact all students via email or Listserv as long as there is an option to unsubscribe, and individual councils should also have parallel privileges in regard to their constituents.
- Fisher said it will take $10 to $15 million to solve student homelessness and housing insecurity. He said he plans to write a proposal to increase budgeting and streamline the process to get funds if a student is in an economic crisis related to housing. He added he will present the proposal to administration by the end of fall quarter and focus on advocacy in winter quarter by getting petition signatures and demonstrating. He also added the funds would be open to any student who can prove they cannot afford housing.
- Vice President of External Affairs JP Santos said he is amending the doctorate program’s mentorship standards. Doctorate students are paired with a faculty mentor who guides them through the completion of their degree. He said sexual harassment and academic abuse by mentors are underreported because the mentors have control over the student’s status. He added his office would try to find a confidential way for students to voice concerns as opposed to an open forum.
- Fisher said his office established an $15 minimum hourly wage for the nine appointed directors. He also said his office made changes to the appointment process in order to make it more streamlined since they had over 100 applicants. He said his office emailed every graduate student through BruinPost about the two remaining available positions – the director of affordable housing and the director of climate action. He also added his office made changes to graduate student orientation by changing the way wristbands were distributed in order to lower wait time. He added there was a 300% increase in union sign-up on orientation day.
- Santos said his office met with Richard Wesel, associate dean of academic and student affairs at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, to raise the graduate student researcher rate, which determines salary amount, to Step VII for engineers. He added his office was working with the Graduate Students Resource Center to implement an easy way for the graduate student body to access information by asking questions on MyUCLA. He also added his office is working to revive the old graduate student housing portal.
- Vice President of Academic Affairs Shrinidhi Balasubramanian said some positions on the Academic Senate are still open to graduate students. The Academic Senate is comprised of 13 committees that have jurisdiction over matters of degree and enrollment requirements.