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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Impasse stalls GPSC pullout

    Erin HertzogStudent Body President
    Erin Hertzog
    Student Body President

    Officials from the Graduate and Professional Student Council and Associated Students of the University of Arizona seem to be at an impasse after a vast percentage of graduate students voted to have a separate student government in the GPSC elections two weeks ago, an election the student body president said was unfairly managed.

    Student regent Ben Graff has joined in the debate, accusing the GPSC of smearing his actions as student body president and of “”stabbing (ASUA) in the back”” by holding the vote.

    The overwhelming turnout in favor of separate graduate and undergraduate student government amounts to a mandate from the graduate students that can’t be ignored, said Paul Thorn, external affairs vice president of GPSC.

    It would be illegitimate for ASUA to push aside such landslide numbers, he said.

    “”The big story here is ASUA isn’t recognizing the voice of grad students,”” said Amanda Brobbel, GPSC administrative director.

    Graduate students do not consider themselves represented by ASUA, despite the student government’s claims, Thorn said.

    Acting student body president Erin Hertzog said the overwhelming vote in favor of sole representation by GPSC was the result of a one-sided smear campaign against ASUA in the form of mass e-mails and false information.

    “”They got the numbers they wanted because they controlled the vote,”” she 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.””

    “”(GPSC) got the numbers they wanted because they controlled the vote. 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.””

    Erin Hertzog
    Student Body President

    Hertzog said one such piece of false information was a claim that ASUA can’t take any credit for bringing tuition remission to graduate and research assistants.

    Graff said GPSC is misleading students and that as student body president from 2000-2001, he worked hand-in-hand with then GPSC president Jason Auxier to get President Peter Likins to allocate $1.1 million for gradate and teaching assistant salaries.

    “”I thought we worked very closely together, and that’s how it should work,”” Graff said. “”GPSC was appropriately working their advisory role.””

    Graff said he wanted to clear up the misconceptions GPSC is promoting.

    “”Despite everything they are saying now, it was my one-on-one meeting with President Likins as a representative of all students that got the $1.1 million line-item for TA and RA salaries.””

    Brobbel said that Graff overplays his role and that graduate students worked on bringing tuition remission, not ASUA.

    “”(“”ASUA argues that with separate governments there is a possibility of division, but there already is division. … Government voices should represent their constituency.””
    “”

    Paul Thorn
    External Affairs Vice President of GPSC

    “”It was a huge amount of work done by grad students, telling them to show up at the regents meeting,”” Brobbel said.

    Maria Teresa Velez, GPSC adviser, said she wouldn’t comment on whether separate student governments would better serve students but said that graduate students did the majority of the work for the graduate issues that were brought up during the elections.

    “”It was a study done by GPSC that documented the need for health insurance and documented the need for work reduction in the (College of) Humanities. They documented the need for child care on campus,”” she said.

    Graff said GPSC is effective as a council, but one that works under a unified force of the ASUA president.

    Thorn said GPSC is trying to set up meetings with the administration, including Likins, but that any move toward a separate graduate and undergraduate student government would be slow, especially with the incoming administration.

    “”Things are going to be particularly slower because Likins is transitioning out and (Robert) Shelton will be transitioning in,”” Thorn said. “”Likins is not going to make any drastic decisions.””

    Thorn said the university president has the ability to make a request to the Arizona Board of Regents to form a committee to review the ASUA constitution, which states that ASUA is the recognized student government for all UA students.

    Graff said taking the situation to the dean of students and the administration and asking them to make this change undermines the ASUA constitution and is the most destructive thing GPSC could do.

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

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