Home Politics Graduate Student Senate votes to boycott university committees over General Fee

Graduate Student Senate votes to boycott university committees over General Fee

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The Ohio University Graduate Student Senate voted to boycott all presidential and university standing committees during Monday’s meeting, demanding answers from President Roderick McDavis on the relevance of the General Fee to graduate students.

The resolution, which was passed by a vote of 14-9, was a response to a recent campaign from the senate and the Ohio University Graduate Workers Party to give graduate workers a livable stipend and lower the number of required costs graduate students have to pay.

One of the demands is to have graduate students opt out of paying the General Fee, which costs $1,256 per academic year and funds “non-instructional student services,” according to the Bursar’s office. Some graduate students say they don’t have the time or energy to use the benefits that come from the General Fee, including free admission to some sporting events and access to the Ping Center.

“I want (McDavis) to answer why we still have to pay $500 in General Fee, at least, and another $800 on top of that for health insurance while having stipends that are not enough to make ends meet?” Shehzad Ahmed, a graduate student studying mathematics, said. “I want to know why he says that graduate students are important while simultaneously … they are overworked and aren’t paid enough money to make ends meet?”

The senate had formally invited McDavis to the Monday meeting so he could answer questions on the General Fee; Shehzad Ahmed even went to the Undergraduate Student Senate meeting on Oct. 8 to verbally invite him.

McDavis denied the invitation and instead invited the three members of the executive board to a private meeting with him, Provost Pam Benoit and Graduate College Dean Joseph Shields, according to an email from Presidential Assistant Kelli Tackett.

As he did with a similar request made last semester, President Carl E. Smith III said he and members of the executive committee were planning not to attend that meeting.

“I think all of you have a right to ask him your questions, and I think your fellow grad students have a right to ask their questions,” Smith said.

Issues that prevented some members from voting for the resolution included worries that the boycott was ineffective in trying to get the administration to work with Graduate Senate. Others, including Undergraduate Student Senate President Gabby Bacha, promoted not extending the boycott towards major committees including the Budget Planning Council and the General Fee committee.

“They are talking about how colleges are going to be spending their money … and I know that’s where a lot of your issues are stemming from,” Bacha said. “So while you do your other work to bring more awareness about grad student issues to the community, this would also be a good avenue to pursue at the same time.”

The boycott will go into effect after the Nov. 16 Graduate Senate meeting if McDavis doesn’t attend a general body meeting and answer questions pertaining to the General Fee to the body’s satisfaction, according to the resolution’s language.

During the meeting, Smith said that he was working with student trustee Sharmaine Wilcox and Board of Trustees secretary Dave Moore to get legislation into the January trustees meeting that would address minimum wage for graduate workers.

Graduate Senate also voted in five new representatives to the body. The new representatives include Shehzad Ahmed as the Graduate Employment Public Awareness Campaign director, H.M. Rakib Ul Hasan for the Department of Human and Consumer Science, Gayane Sargyan for the Department of Economics-Master of Financial Economics, Yuli Hu for the Department of Plant Biology and Robert James for the Department of History.

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