After a grueling academic year of sexual harassment policy debates and a so-far failed attempt at graduate student unionization, the Cornell Graduate and Professional Student Assembly launched a new school year with familiar and fresh items on the agenda.
GPSA Counsel Nate Rogers, grad, gave a brief introduction to the Assembly and its place within the structure of Cornell as a whole. Committee officers then gave updates and reports, each describing the purpose of their committee and the projects in which they are involved. Vice President for Operations Chair Alex Loiben, grad, emphasized the importance of GPSA’s committees.
“Committees are where the grunt work is done in the Assembly,” he said. “It’s where we can talk about these issues, research and draft resolutions and push for positive changes.”
A continued focus of the Assembly will be the consensual relationships policy, noted Vice President of Communications Arianna Maria Gagnon, grad. A resolution was adopted last April to “revamp” this policy.
“I think another big part of our discussion this year is going to be on policies that affect the graduate and professional student population, so there was a policy that we were working on at the very end of our term last year, [that] was the sexual harassment policy,” she told the Sun.
“That was a huge discussion, and I think a lot of students and members who were here for that discussion care deeply about those types of issues being discussed here,” she added.
Gagnon also highlighted some new outreach initiatives the Communications Committee will begin this year, including the creation of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram accounts for GPSA.
“I would like for more people to know we exist, because we do a lot of hard work that affects everyone’s lives,” she said. She said she wants to “give everyone a taste and understanding of what exactly it is that we do here and how we accomplish our overall goal at GPSA.”
GPSA President Ekarina Winarto, grad, noted that the next meeting is expected to see a vote on the Assembly’s standing rules and a review of the charter and bylaws. Other upcoming business will include discussions surrounding the setting of the student activity fee.
“This is student activity fee-setting year, so most of the rest of the semester will probably be occupied with discussions on that, like how much to allocate to each organization [and] how much of a raise in overall student activity fee we’re going to approve,” she told The Sun.
Winarto also emphasized her satisfaction with the President Pollack’s response to a resolution adopted last November about making Cornell a sanctuary campus.
“I think as far as I’m concerned, I am personally pretty satisfied with the answers the president has given us, although they have been a little reluctant on really using the label ‘sanctuary campus,’” she said. “But we’ve been reassured that [the] protection of diversity … will be upheld.”