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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “ASUA, GPSC feud still unresolved”

    GPSC’s quest to officially separate from ASUA and create an autonomous graduate student government is at a standstill after President Peter Likins declined to appoint a committee to assess the need for such a separation.

    Likins turned down the Graduate and Professional Student Council’s request that he appeal to the Arizona Board of Regents to allow him to appoint a committee that would review the Associated Students of the University of Arizona’s constitution.

    Under the current constitution and governmental structure, GPSC is a council within ASUA, and ASUA officially represents all students, according to ASUA President Erin Hertzog.

    “”To have an undergraduate governing body trying to represent everyone but sitting hierarchically above the graduate representation is taking away advocacy from graduates,”” said Paul Thorn, who was inaugurated last week as GPSC president for the 2006-2007 school year.

    The move to separate was initiated by a referendum on the March GPSC election ballot that asked voting graduate and professional students: “”Should University of Arizona graduate students be represented by the GPSC and not be represented by the ASUA?””

    The election drew 1,167 graduate students, a record turnout for GPSC, and 94.4 percent, 1,085 graduates, voted in favor of the pullout.

    Amanda Brobbel, GPSC elections director, said she attributed the near-doubled turnout to the referendum.

    “”I take it that many grad students came out specifically to vote on the referendum question that was on the ballot,”” Brobbel said in an e-mail.

    ASUA officials said they treated the results like a survey because the GPSC doesn’t have the authority to administer a student referendum.

    GPSC launched a negative campaign against ASUA, administered a biased survey and distributed “”inaccurate”” literature, Hertzog said.

    “”They got the numbers they wanted because they controlled the vote,”” Hertzog said. “”They didn’t provide another option for grad students, and they excluded the medical and law students, who voted last year to be represented exclusively by ASUA.””

    Elaine Ulrich, this year’s GPSC president, said graduates don’t have sufficient voice under the current structure of student government, and that lumping together groups facing different issues is a conflict of interest.

    “”There’s a reason students don’t represent faculty, and graduate students need that same degree of autonomy,”” Ulrich said.

    GPSC faced heavy criticism from student regent and past ASUA president Ben Graff, who accused them of “”stabbing (ASUA) in the back”” by holding the referendum.

    “”A separate student government is possibly the worst thing that could happen to student on the University of Arizona campus in terms of leadership and advocacy,”” Graff said. “”There is almost no such thing as just a graduate or just an undergraduate student issue.””

    On April 10, GPSC members wrote a letter to Likins asking the administration to step in and initiate an assessment of ASUA.

    The letter asked Likins to approach the regents, citing a board of regents policy that states: “”the Board may, at the request of the president of an institution, direct the president of the institution to appoint a committee to review the constitution and determine whether revisions are necessary or desirable.””

    In a response letter, Likins encouraged GPSC to work toward a change in student government through compromising with ASUA.

    “”He said he thought ASUA was willing to compromise, but I don’t think that’s true,”” Thorn said.

    Hertzog said she was looking forward to working toward compromise with GPSC and helping the council accomplish its goals for next year.

    Thorn said the letter still left many of the issues unresolved, and GPSC will continue to lobby Likins’ administration and the incoming administration.

    “”I don’t see a lot of legitimacy in them claiming they represent graduate students when graduate students clearly don’t want to be represented by them,”” Thorn said. “”This shows that graduate students don’t feel they are represented by them, and ASUA should respect that.””

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