Graduate senators propose separate representative body

Several members of the Student Association have called for a split in the SA Senate that would create two separate governing bodies to represent the interests of graduate and undergraduate students.

The initiative to split the Senate will face a vote in the Senate next semester and must be passed by two-thirds of the members. If it passes, students will vote on the split in the spring election. The proceedings could take as long as two years, SA members said.

SA Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss said the idea for the split is as old as the SA.

“This has floated around for years,” Strauss said. “We’re one of the only schools in the country that doesn’t have a divided student association.”

Graduate Sen. Emily Cummins (CSAS), one of the members of the SA who is spearheading the effort, said she feels the change will help the organization run more efficiently.

“Our groups have different interests,” Cummins said. “The undergrads are more worried about campus politicking and we already had our time to be worried about that when we were undergrads.”

Undergraduate Sen. Jared Hosid (CSAS) said problems arise because graduates tend to be more concerned with academic issues while undergraduates are more concerned with campus life.

“Anyone who’s been at SA meetings this year knows that time and energy is wasted,” he said.

Cummins said competing interests cause problems not only in the Senate, but in the executive branch as well.

“(SA President Carrie Potter) has done a very good job supporting the interests of the grads, but in past years we haven’t necessarily had a president that’s supporting us,” Cummins said. “Even though there are more grads than undergrads, the president isn’t necessarily going to be concerned with what we want. That’s why we would benefit from having a separate organization with a separate president.”

Potter said because the SA still is in the beginning stages of a possible division, she has not been involved in the discussions surrounding it.

“Through research we’ve done for other things we’ve discovered that most other universities do have separate student associations,” she said. “As to whether that is necessarily better, we don’t know.”

Potter said she feels the SA needs to look more closely at the problems before they split the organization.

“The concerns need to be pinpointed and addressed first,” she said. “If they find the only way to address those concerns is through a split, then we’ll look at it at that time.”

Graduate Sen. Jon Rodeback (CSAS) said a split will be advantageous.

“We are one organization trying to meet the needs of two different groups pulling in two different directions,” Rodeback said. “A split would help us to address the needs of our individual constituents but also allow us to work together as well.”

Hosid said he supports the issue, but he believes the SA must proceed carefully.

“This is possibly the biggest thing we’ll do in this Senate, and first we need to make sure that students are okay with this,” Hosid said. “It’s a long process and it’s not meant to be rushed but we’ve got to start the gears now.”

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