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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

GPSC to invest in the future for spring semester

Kyle+Hansen+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AMembers+of+the+Graduate+Professional+Student+Council+pose+outside+of+Old+Main+on+Tuesday.+
Kyle Hansen
Kyle Hansen / The Daily Wildcat Members of the Graduate Professional Student Council pose outside of Old Main on Tuesday.

Throughout the spring semester, the Graduate and Professional Student Council plans to tackle a number of issues to improve the well-being of graduate students and professionals.

According to Zach Brooks, president of GPSC, the council will focus on long-term projects this semester, such as requesting an increase in the grant GPSC currently provides students with to help with childcare, thoroughly examining the fees that students pay each semester, specifically the newly introduced iCourse fee, and generating discussions supporting higher education.

Brooks said that GPSC has taken a stance to no longer support any newly proposed fee moving forward unless its purpose and use is clearly defined, adding that there is a lack of transparency in many fees the university charges students.

“I don’t think there is any real transparency for a lot of fees that students pay, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Brooks said. “There are some fees that are really good as far as being transparent and some are really, really poor.”

Amongst many concerns GPSC has about student fees, the council has been specifically researching the newly implemented iCourse fee that went into effect this semester.

The fee is an added $50 to every class taught fully online that is meant to build an “online learning experience that is equal to a world-class UA classroom,” according to UA’s Student Affairs webpage describing the fee.

However, the use of this fee has raised concern amongst GPSC members. Jasmine Sears, assembly chair of GPSC, is skeptical of whether the iCourse fee is being used for its intended purpose.

Sears said she spoke with a political science professor at the UA who teaches the same course both in-person and online, who told her that his online course has not changed whatsoever since the implementation of the new fee and that he does not plan to change his course.

“He is pretty sure that the fee is used to make up for budget cuts somewhere else,” Sears said. “That might be the case, but that is not what student fees are meant to be used for.”

Brooks said that GPSC plans to tackle fees to truly understand each and every one of them and how they are benefiting students.

They also plan to address the lack of a childcare facility on campus for student parents, Isoken Adodo, presidents chief of staff for GPSC, said.

This semester, GPSC plans to ask from $100,000 from the Student Services Fee Board, as opposed to the usual $26,000, to give immediate assistance to students who are in need of childcare. The UA is the only Pac-12 school that does not have an accessible childcare facility, and Adodo said she believes that lack is detrimental to the university.

The grant is provided to students through UA Life & Work Connections for those seeking childcare assistance, Adodo said.

“Every year, young faculty that are looking for jobs are asking about childcare facilities in their benefits package, and because we don’t have that, it’s a detriment,” Adodo said. “It means we can’t recruit some of the brightest and best researchers and students because we can’t provide those services.”

While gaining support and funds to build an on-campus childcare facility will be a long-term project for GPSC, Adodo said that the increase in the grant will be an immediate bandage to the problem.

Lastly, GPSC wants to work to increase the salary of graduate assistants. According to Brooks, the average salary a graduate assistant makes is $16,000, while the cost of attendance is $21,000 — meaning, more than likely, they need to take out loans to live.

There will be a number of events that promote student engagement on behalf of GPSC, such as Grad Slam, where students will get the chance to present their research in front of a panel of judges for three minutes, and finalists have to chance to win prizes. GPSC also plans to set up discussions with Arizona politicians regarding the importance of higher education.

“This is a semester of investments,” Brooks said, “and we’re prepared to be really smart advocates of spring of 2015.”

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Follow Adriana Espinosa on Twitter.

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