February 3, 2006

S.A., GPSA Discuss Slope Day

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Graduate students will be allowed to attend Slope Day this year, but they may have to pay up to 10 times as much as undergraduates for a beer. Cranking up concession prices is just one option members of the Student Assembly (S.A.) and the Slope Day Programming Board (SDPB) are considering in order to make graduate students attending Slope Day this year pay the price of admission.

In the wake of Monday’s actions by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA), which virtually ruled out the possibility that the GPSA will contribute funding to Slope Day for the next three years, many S.A. members wanted to ban graduate students from the slope this year. But Slope Day officials do not have the logistical capacity to do so this year, stated Jon Bellante ’06 in an email to S.A. and Slope Day officials.

“If we end up charging different prices [for concessions] it’s not out of spite in any way,” Bellante said. Bellante is chair of the Slope Day Programming Board and co-chair of the Slope Day Steering Committee.

At a tense meeting of the S.A. in the Straight yesterday evening, students representing the GPSA including Mike Walsh grad and Doug Mitarotonda grad, student trustee, clashed with S.A. representatives over the key issues that divide the two assemblies regarding Slope Day.

After it became apparent that the concerns of both sides would not be resolved last night, the S.A. tabled the debate. The two assemblies will come together in a meeting next week with Peggy Beach, director of the Office of the Assemblies.

In a statement he read at the S.A. meeting, Walsh said that Monday’s action “did not reflect in any way the GPSA’s desire to fund or not to fund Slope Day. In fact that decision was never made. The initial move was to create a fund with the possible intent of supporting Slope Day given that the Slope Day Programming Board would submit a full proposal that would have included statistically sound figures on graduate student attendance and an appropriate plan for the funds. This has been rendered nearly impossible as a result of this week’s determination by the GPSA.”

However, the dispute is not merely procedural, and tension is still extremely high between the two groups. The GPSA has cited the S.A.’s procedures for requesting the funds, the number of graduate and professional students that undergraduate leaders say attended last year’s Slope Day, and a general distaste for Slope Day as major graduate student grievances. Undergraduate leaders, in turn, refute the GPSA’s claims that they failed to follow procedure and maintain that their statistics about graduate student attendance are statistically sound.

Undergraduate leaders say that 25 percent of graduate students attended Slope Day last year while the GPSA puts the number at 7.5 percent.

“[The SDPB has] statistical research that 25 percent of graduate students attend,” said Michelle Fernandes ’06, vice president for finance of the S.A.

“We really didn’t see where those stats were pulled from. They seemed to be pulled from the air,” Walsh responded.

“Several of us asked, ‘What would the S.A. do in this case?’ Imagine if I came here today and demanded money. You would all laugh in my face,” Walsh said.

Undergraduates maintained that they had followed the proper avenues to maintain funding. “It was my understanding from Jon Bellante that he tried to get in touch with the GPSA as early as last Slope Day,” said Sarah Boxer ’07, vice president for public relations of the S.A., when Walsh said that the undergraduates had approached the GPSA last-minute. Boxer also sits on the Slope Day Steering Committee.

Undergraduates said they were just trying to get graduate students to contribute equitably to a community-wide event.

“It’s not fair that undergraduates foot the entire bill and graduate students are the only department that doesn’t pay for Slope Day,” Fernandes said.

“I honestly think that the GPSA misled us,” she added, expressing the sentiment, prevalent among undergraduate leaders, that the GPSA gave the impression that they would help fund Slope Day, only to back out too close to the event date to allow logistical preparations to be made to exclude graduate students from the slope.

“It’s frustrating because at the end of last semester we very much were under the impression that the graduate students were going to contribute an equitable amount to Slope Day,” said Krystyn Tendy ’06, the SDPB liaison to the GPSA.

“It’s making it contentious when it doesn’t need to be, it defeats the spirit of Slope Day, and it violates the President’s mandate [to create a community wide event] and [the graduate student population] is literally the one sector of campus that doesn’t contribute,” Tendy said.

In an interview with The Sun, Bellante said that he had hope that next week’s meeting would start the two assemblies on the right path, and that he was happy that they are willing to come together around a bargaining table.

Archived article by David Wittenberg
Sun Staff Writer