Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Student representatives attend the GPSA meeting in Malott Hall on Sept. 13 2021.

September 28, 2021

GPSA Joins Calls on University to Accommodate Quarantined Students, Continues to Fill Vacancies

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In a Monday night meeting, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly voted on a resolution to increase accommodations for students in quarantine for COVID-19 and filled more leadership vacancies.

In his first meeting since being newly elected, GPSA President Preston Hanley grad sponsored Resolution 3, which called for the University to accommodate students who are in quarantine, and Resolution 4, which requested an increase in the use of the graduate student listserv. Sixteen voting members were present.

The call on the University to accommodate students who are unable to attend in-person classes due to being in quarantine is not new. The Student Assembly passed a similar resolution on Sept. 6 –– Resolution 16, which called on the University to protect and accommodate students during the spike in COVID-19 cases.

On Sept. 9, the Faculty Senate also passed two resolutions to improve classroom COVID accommodations and allow instructors to move their courses online if needed. Members of the GPSA questioned the need for the resolution due to the lack of response from President Martha Pollack to the other assemblies who have passed similar resolutions.

In resolution 3, the GPSA urges the University to make audio and video recordings of classrooms available for quarantined students, equip all classrooms with audio or video recording capabilities, offer make-up exams to students in isolation, offer additional Zoom office hours and alter attendance and participation grading for students in quarantine. 

Hanley said the resolution was needed to show solidarity with the other assemblies who passed their own resolutions.

“If all assemblies pass the resolution, it bypasses the president and goes straight to the trustees,” said Nikola Danev grad, the counsel of the assembly.

The resolution passed with 14 members voting in favor, two abstaining and none opposing the resolution. The University Assembly and the Employee Assembly must pass their own resolutions calling for similar action to bypass President Pollack.

Resolution 3, which regarded the increase in use of the graduate student listserv, was also proposed by Hanley, because the GPSA is currently allowed to use the listserv once a month. 

Two weeks ago, the assembly filled many of its leadership positions, leaving one position vacant –– the vice president of operations. Kate Carter-Cram grad nominated herself to the position and was elected with 28 members voting in favor and 17 abstaining.

During her speech, Carter-Cram said her goal was to give underrepresented students a chance to see changes in the GPSA. The position of appropriations committee chair was also filled in Monday night’s meeting by Ben Carver grad. Carver was elected with 30 members voting in favor and one member abstaining.

In GPSA’s previous meeting, Hanley described the position as vital seeing as this is a fee-setting year. 

“I saw the gigantic list of vacancies, and thought I could really be useful,” Carver said. “I think this position keeps the organization running and I am happy to do it.”

Parshad Mehta grad will serve as this year’s diversity and international student committee chair. He was elected with 28 members voting in favor and one member abstaining.

The assembly also held vacancies in four of the divisions –– the arts and humanities division, life sciences division, social sciences division and at-large master’s student position. 

The divisions met separately for 15 minutes toward the beginning of the meeting to elect students to each position. 

Anna Wunsch grad was elected as the life sciences division voting member. Bridget Hayes grad and Georgia Smits will both serve as social sciences division voting members and Josh Washington will serve as the at-large master’s student voting member.

The arts and humanities division remained with two voting members vacancies. Hanley said that if no one fills the position by the next meeting, Oct. 18, then the positions will be open to any students outside of the division. 

All of the newly elected members were able to vote on the resolutions discussed at the meeting.