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The resolutions passed at GPSA dealt with accommodations for international student leaders at the Maplewood Apartments, updating byline funding procedures, equal representation for professional students in GPSA and arts college language requirement changes.

April 24, 2018

GPSA Tackles Social Sciences Restructuring, Consensual Relations

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The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly tackled the issues of the possible restructuring of the social sciences and the proposed consensual relationships policy, while passing four resolutions at their meeting on Monday.

Ted O’Donoghue, the Zubrow Professor of Economics and senior associate dean for Social Science, who is currently co-chairing the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences, discussed the ideas for changes that could come about in the context of graduate education. He mentioned proposals for consolidation of departments to create clarity for incoming students.

“A lot of [the proposals] were about clearly articulating what different fields are to help clarify exactly to an incoming student where you should be going,” he said. “If we don’t see differences [between the fields], [we will] think about forms of consolidation.”

Another change regarding graduate education was an effort to unify graduate fields that are “big and cross multiple academic units and multiple departments” to increase the sense of community. The committee considered making graduate fields feel like one community, rather than the “core and periphery,” according to O’Donoghue.

No proposals or changes to the social sciences have been decided on at this point, including the merger of the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.  The committee is still currently listening to feedback and responses and reporting back to the provost and president. Vice Provost Judith Appleton, also a co-chair of the committee, said they will continue to listen as long as it takes, even if it means extending the discussion into the fall semester.

The consensual relationships policy that the administration is working on reforming was also considered at the meeting. Members voiced their concern over the disproportionate effects of the current policy CRP-A, which calls for a ban on consensual relationships between faculty and graduate and professional students in the same degree program or field, as well as states that “sexual or romantic relationships between faculty members and undergraduate students are prohibited regardless of department, school, or college affiliation.”

The other option, CRP-B, would allow such relationships with a disclosure and recusal plan.

Matthew Battaglia ’16 grad mentioned his concern about how students in different degree programs may be affected by the blanket ban policy proposed in CRP-A. He noted that the different sizes in graduate fields and degree fields vary greatly. Faculty and students in large degree programs may not necessarily cross academic paths in the same way as smaller departments.

“The size difference between a graduate field versus the Johnson graduate school of business is 1,200 people, which is very large,” Battaglia said. “Some graduate fields tend to be quite small, whereas the rest of the schools and international programs can be quite large.”

Members of the GPSA will vote on their preference between the two plans or indicate that they support neither. The same vote will be held at the next Faculty Senate meeting, which will take place on Wednesday. The results of the votes on the consensual relationship policy will be given to President Martha E. Pollack, who will have the final say on the University’s official policy.

In addition, GPSA Resolutions 13, 14, 15, and 16 were passed at the meeting. The resolutions dealt with accommodations for international student leaders at the Maplewood Apartments, updating byline funding procedures, equal representation for professional students in GPSA and arts college language requirement changes.

Resolution 13 urges the University to come up with a solution to allow international students to serve as community leaders at the new Maplewood Apartments, in response to a discovery that international students would effectively no longer be able to take on the role of Graduate Community Advisors and leaders there, according to the resolution.

Resolution 14 updated the byline funding procedures for the GPSA. The new procedures more closely align to those of the student assembly. This resolution was a preemptive measure, as opposed to reactionary measures that tend to happen, according to Tyler McCann grad, former chair of the appropriations committee.

“Typically the ways things function here has been reactionary. A problem comes up, and then you quickly try and solve it. The bulk of what we were doing here was preemptive. This a spot that we acknowledged could be an issue, let’s address it right now before one emerges,” McCann said.

Resolution 15 worked on the issue of representation of professional students within the GPSA. Three major changes to the resolution included adding a diversity and international students seat, designating an additional two positions on the GPSA to master’s students, and updating the number of professional student seats according to Battaglia, a sponsor.

Jesse Goldberg grad, sponsor of Resolution 16, was inspired by the letter to the editor cosigned by over eighty faculty members in response to the proposal to reduce the arts and sciences language requirement.

“This resolution is proposed that we are in support of our constituents,” Goldberg said. “The resolution points out that even though Cornell administration does not acknowledge graduate students as employees, we expect in decisions that are going to reduce any kind of requirement or reduce course offerings that graduate student labor be given the same kind of consideration and respect as employees.”

Resolution 16 called for further discussion on the topic ahead of the vote on the decision to change the language requirements. Dean Gretchen Ritter of the college of arts and sciences has encouraged the faculty to vote at their final faculty meeting on May 1 “if broad agreement seems likely,” according to an update on the proposed changes.