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Graduate Student Senate votes to lift boycott of university committees

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After meeting with President Roderick McDavis on Thursday, the Ohio University Graduate Student Senate voted to lift their boycott against all university standing committees during their meeting Monday.

The senate had previously voted on a resolution to boycott these committees, passing it with a 14-9 vote. Four days before the boycott was to be put in place on Monday, McDavis agreed to meet with the senate, a meeting that happened last Thursday.

Many senate members were not satisfied with the results of the meeting, saying that McDavis avoided the conversation and never answered the question of whether or not the Office of the President was against decreasing the General Fee for graduate students.

““I think at this point McDavis isn’t the person, really, to answer these questions and that maybe we can get some of these answers from other people,” said Sarah Kaplan, Vice President of Communications for the Graduate Student Senate. “There’s all of his administrators below him that actually work with the data every single day. There’s the Board of Trustees above him. There are so many more avenues than just McDavis himself.”

The senate went on to explain that there are different ways to get their message across and that this process should be more than one boycott. However, some senate members disagreed.

“We have support; if we stop boycotting, we lose all of our power,” said Paige Walters, an environmental studies department representative. “Right now, we have power, which was exemplified when McDavis agreed to meet with us.”

More than just senate members were in support of the boycott. Angela Chapman read a letter from Ryan Powers, a member of the Ohio University Student Union, stating his support for the boycott. He said that even as an undergrad student, he understands that “their struggles are intertwined,” and he urged the senate to continue the boycott.

In addition, Ian Armstrong, the Academic Affairs Special Interest Committee leader, explained that after talking to several colleagues about the meeting on Thursday, the boycott had full support from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“President McDavis will find no chemistry or biochemistry (graduate) student (that) will act on any of these committees without the consent of this body,” Armstrong said.

After much debate, the resolution to end the boycott was passed with only four votes against. The senate also passed a resolution to show their support of a separate undergraduate and graduate student General Fee.

The meeting also focused on how GSS wants to spread awareness about the problems that come with being graduate students. Shehzad Ahmed said that his primary goal in his new position as the Graduate Employment Public Awareness Campaign director is to keep sharing the experiences of graduate students to the point where it gets hard to ignore. This plan includes making a documentary, getting teaching assistants to inform undergraduate students, as well as reaching out to faculty and other senates.

Boyd McCamish, a field director from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a union with 1.6 million members, spoke to the senate. He called on GSS to question how to make the university “a driver of good instead of a driver of bad.” He said that there are three choices: do nothing, appeal to the system or unionize.  

“If we don’t change these things, we are looking at some very dark times,” McCamish said.

In addition to McCamish, Miguel Gomez, vice president of the International Student Union, explained the website Uniiculture, which is meant to “bridge the gap between the community and university.” Modeled after Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” feature, the website is meant for the university to submit questions or comments in order to get replies from other students or faculty. Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones, the interim Vice President of Student Affairs, as well as Dr. Shari Clark, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, agreed to answer questions on this website this week and next.

GSS ended the meeting by planning and voting on establishing a task force. This task force will be responsible for creating a survey to help the senate understand how graduate students feel about the services the general fee funds.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kaplan’s quote has been edited from it’s original version to provide important context.

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One Comment

  1. Sarah Kaplan

    November 18, 2015 at 2:21 PM

    My quote which was butchered and taken out of context was: “I think at this point McDavis isn’t the person, really, to answer these questions and that maybe we can get some of these answers from other people. There’s all of his administrators below him that actually work with the data every single day. There’s the Board of Trustees above him. There are so many more avenues than just McDavis himself.”

    Also, it should be placed after the following paragraph: The senate went on to explain that there are different ways to get their message across and that this process should be more than one boycott. However, some senate members disagreed.

    If you place what I actually said in context, I never once referred to “the question of whether or not the Office of the President was against decreasing the General Fee for graduate students.”

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kaplan

    Reply

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