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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


GPSC president looks to focus on on-campus child care, discussions with Hart

Robert Alcaraz/Arizona Summer Wildcat GPSC President Zachary Brooks said he plans work with UA administrators to focus on on-campus childcare services and fee bundling during his presidency next year.

Zachary Brooks took the office of Graduate and Professional Student Council’s president after a rough election in April, which included an appeal from the opposing candidate who alleged several violations with the process. Midway through the summer, Brooks said he has been preparing to address several issues that have been on the council’s radar for the past year. The Summer Wildcat sat down with Brooks to discuss those issues further, and how he plans to work with President Hart.

Summer Wildcat: What kind of preparations has GPSC been making throughout the summer?

Brooks: We throw three big events every year, so the first thing was to get a staff in place, and that took about two months. I’m just trying to make sure that I get to know everyone at GPSC, so everyone kind of feels very much personally invested in who we are. And then I’ve probably met about 50 or so various administrators and other people on campus to make sure that they know about us and we can work on our projects together. So there’s a lot of different things that I’ve done as far as preparations, but by and large it’s about just getting to know people so they can know us, and they see us as a partner on campus.

One issue that GPSC has raised several times is on-campus child care facilities. Is that still a priority?

Yes. We heard that there’s some talk of a building being built in three to four years, and that’s all great, but one of the things we’re proud of at GPSC is every year we bring up a child care issue. We know that there’s other classified staff and other groups do their part as well, but one of the things we were able to do last year is that we were able to get $25,000 with the help of the undergraduates. Part of my last two months has been looking for an opportunity to fill in the gap again for child care. Every year, our goal is to make sure that that is a huge issue that we bring up because it benefits graduate and professional students, but also veterans, undergraduates, faculty, staff and administrators. Every year we’ll do something and right now we’re trying to find out the best place to put our efforts for the upcoming year.

On-campus child care has been relevant for quite some time now. What are the roadblocks keeping it from coming to fruition?

It’s a lot bigger than we can deal with in our position. There’s a lot of public, private, statewide legal issues regarding that. We don’t know all of those things. I think another issue is just space on campus. There’s just massive amounts of liability questions, and if there were a child care problem, whatever emergency or problem could happen, who would pay for that? So that’s way beyond us. Our job is to find something we can do in a one-year period that keeps it on the forefront and benefits graduate and professional students, obviously, first. It’s obviously a big issue and we’re just going to be part of the solution.

You also mentioned fee-bundling as a concern. Do you still plan to address that issue?

Absolutely. Fees are tricky, because, on one hand, administrators like them because you can get a directed amount of money spent to a very specific thing, and I get that, but for most graduate and professional students, all they see is just fees. Just extra money that they have to pay out of pocket and they don’t know why. That’s a huge issue. What I’m trying to fight for is that, first of all, I asked that they be unbundled, but in the absence of that, I want on the bursar’s account that everyone can see through subtotals that they know exactly how much money is being spent to each portion. So, for the health and recreation fee, they have the Rec Center and all our health stuff, it’s bundled together. Which percentage goes where? The average student doesn’t even know where. That would be a transparency thing. I think that if we can’t fight the fees, people will at least accept what the fees are if they know what the money’s going to.

There was a bit of controversy with last semester’s GPSC election when a candidate appealed the process due to alleged violations. Do you have any concern that the council’s image has been tainted from that?

If someone has a bad image of us, that’s their problem. I think we have a great council. I’m super happy and confident in what we have. The appeals process was really great because it brought up a couple issues that we needed to know about. As far as our elections, there are a couple weaknesses in our elections process, but … people who voted on this about the elections appeal found that the election, by and large, was really solid.

President Hart has been in office for nearly a month now. What kind of discussions does GPSC have planned with her?

I met with her yesterday. We are going to have future meetings, hopefully two or three a semester. But I met with her yesterday, and we know a lot of common people from Salt Lake City. I had a great conversation with her. She’s really friendly and warm, and the fact that she wants to work with students and meet with us three to four times a semester, from what I understand, is a huge improvement. (Former President) Gene Sander was great, but he never met with us once. So we’re really happy to work with her.

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