Looks like GPSC leadership is getting a workout.
Typically unlike their undergraduate counterparts, the Graduate and Professional Student Council usually likes to take a proactive stance in advancing the agenda of its constituents. True to form, the graduate leadership met with Provost Meredith Hay on Wednesday to hash out GPSC’s concerns straight to the administrative source. (Thanks to the Daily Wildcat for covering the meeting so that we can use some of their content.)
The meeting was moved to 5 p.m. (from the usual GPSC meeting time of 6:30 p.m.) to accommodate the provost’s schedule. The “open forum” was limited to five graduate questioners “allowed” to take two minutes each on their questions.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time a member of the University of Arizona administration has met with GPSC in a forum-like setting. President Robert Shelton has met with graduate leadership on at least a few occasions. However, let’s take a look at what the president has said and what the provost is saying now:
In Shelton’s Sept. 21 meeting with GPSC representatives, the president said the university would not cut graduate benefits. Did he really, though? That’s what the headline of the story says and that seems to be the general flow of the story, but as someone who was at that meeting (and wrote the story), I can say that Shelton didn’t exactly “guarantee” the preservation of graduate benefits. Rather, there was a lot of head-nodding by Shelton, and his actual quote was, “There is no plan to eliminate graduate benefits.” Downplaying the idea, the president then compared the rumor to a game of telephone.
No plan to eliminate graduate benefits, though, is far from a guarantee from elimination. Maybe there was no actual plan in September, but there may be now. By looking into GPSC’s meeting with Hay last night, one might be willing to draw the conclusion that such a plan MAY currently be in the works, either to eliminate benefits or make them less accessible. After all, check out this excerpt from the Wildcat’s story:
- A request from Blaney for a commitment from the provost’s office to preserve these benefits was not directly granted.
“We’ll call upon the graduate council as we design the budget for next year,” Hay said.
Hmmm, so when Shelton meets with the GPSC in September, there’s “no plan to eliminate graduate benefits,” but when Hay meets with graduate leadership in December, there’s no commitment from the UA administration to preserve graduate benefits? Someone’s playing with language, and hopefully the upper-echelon of GPSC realizes that something is not adding up here.
Speaking of moving and moving but going nowhere, the never-ending creation and development of a potential Graduate Student Bill of Rights is being held off again, despite being unanimously approved by the Graduate Council in October. Now, the bill of rights is being renamed as a “statement of rights,” as the document would be legally non-binding. Not only is the statement going through another round of revisions on Dec. 8, the statement’s language in its title is being changed to reflect the sad truth—that such a document would be basically symbolic rather than a huge step forward in graduate rights (as it was billed when it was still in the beginning planning stages).
Once enthusiastic over the potential bill of rights, one has to wonder if GPSC President David Talenfeld thinks the “statement of rights” will ever be finalized or whether the idea has been bastardized beyond recognition and its origins.
Said Talenfeld at Wednesday’s meeting, “I think we need to resolve this once and for all.” No kidding.