Michael Wenye Li / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Members of the Cornell graduate community gather at the GPSA meeting on Monday.

February 13, 2018

GPSA Critiques Human Resources LGBT Policy

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The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly critiqued a directive that sends faculty seeking LGBT resources to the Division of Human Resources and also addressed the importance of the Graduate and Professional Community Initiative during its meeting on Monday.

GPSA executive vice president Manisha Munasinghe grad delivered a presentation on a directive that requires faculty and staff to go the Division of Human Resources for LGBT programming instead of the LGBT Resource Center.

“Before this directive was issued, staff and faculty were allowed to participate in the resources and programming that was being put on by the LGBTRC,” Munasinghe said.

“The LGBTRC was then issued this directive that told them that you are no longer supposed to go through the LGBTRC, you have to go through the Division of Human Resources instead.”

Munasinghe then explained that the Division of Human Resources itself must go to the LGBTRC for training and support. This seems to defeat the purpose of adding another layer of bureaucracy to the system for faculty and staff only, according to Munasinghe.

“The foundation of the LGBTRC was to be the central hub of LGBT+ life on campus,” Munasinghe said. “We don’t really endorse this idea that we should fracture the LGBTQ community and send them to two different places.”

Nate Rogers grad presented about the Graduate and Professional Community Initiative, a document created in 2007. The document is a collection of the graduate community’s concerns and needs organized into one text so that they can be addressed gradually over time.

“The GPCI has been the document driving how Cornell approaches and interacts with the graduate and professional student community,” Rogers said. “You can see this in that a lot of the things that you have heard about recently have their roots in the GPCI.”

However, the document has not been addressed as much in recent years, according to Rogers.

“Most within the GPSA don’t really know what the GPCI is and we just really haven’t stepped up to participate,” Rogers said. “It’s a big, time-intensive process.”

Rogers listed a few campus initiatives that were carried out because of the GPCI, including the Big Red Barn’s $1.2 million renovation, the hiring of career advisors for the Graduate Professional Community Center and the initiation of the Maplewood Housing project.

Xanda Schofield grad delivered a presentation on the software program Slack, a cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services that categorize chatroom-style communities by select topics.

“We have this thing called Slack that we have made available for everybody who wants to keep up with GPSA goings-on in the Cornell community,” Schofield said. “We thought that this might be a useful platform for people to be able to talk about the GPSA when we are not in these big meetings.”

Elena Michel grad, a voting member for biological sciences, explained that this was her third year attending GSPA meetings and that she enjoys learning about the passions of other graduate students who want to incentivize positive change on Cornell’s campus.

“It is a good opportunity to meet people from other departments and other divisions, and also to bring these important things that we are talking about back to my own department,” Michel said. “While a lot of the stuff we talk about is focused on graduate and professional students, a lot of it does have implications for the whole university.”