Environment Politics Graduate Student Senate discussed new sustainability project and student surveys at Monday’s meeting By Elizabeth Chidlow Posted on February 2, 2016 5 min read 0 0 629 File photo by Austin Linfante Ohio University’s Graduate Student Senate met Monday to discuss issues facing the graduate student body, including an essay contest on sustainability, graduate transportation and a survey about the graduate student general fee. Alex Burke, the environmental affairs commissioner, presented a potential upcoming essay competition for graduate and undergraduate students. The competition, called SustainOHIO, requires a 300-500 word essay on how to make the campus more eco-friendly. The contest has not been confirmed, but the Senate will vote on whether to continue with it in early March. The deadline is planned for March 25, and winners will receive a cash prize. There is currently $700 to be split between first, second and third place winners. Additionally, Burke is working to get between $200 and $1000 from the Voinovich School and $700 from the Student Activities Commission by Feb. 15. “The key part of this project is to get student participation,” Burke said. The SustainOHIO presentation was followed by a report from Senate President Carl E. Smith. The officers’ report is usually given by all three officers, but Smith was the only one present. Vice President of Communications Luidmilla Pestun was in Washington, D.C., and Vice President of Communications Sarah Kaplan was stepping down. Smith, who is also a candidate for Ohio’s 94th congressional district seat, attended last week’s Meet the Mayor event and was able to further discuss the potential of expanding transportation services for graduate students with Athens Mayor Steve Patterson. “Our biggest initiative at the beginning was public transit,” Smith said. At the moment, Bus Route 6 is providing graduate students living in The Plains daily transportation. The route was the result of a $150,000 grant, applied for by Athens Public Transit Coordinator Michael Lachman two years ago. The group continued by discussing a graduate student survey. The project, to be released after spring break, will cover how students feel about programs and services paid for through the general fee, such as intercollegiate athletics and arts. According to Journalism Department Representative Ken Ward, the task force in charge of the project plans for a 20-30 percent response rate. “We’re putting together a survey to determine how students value all the different services and programs, and also how much they use them,” said Angie Chapman, a member of the survey task force. “Going forward, as the graduate student body, we will look at how we want to address the general fee.” Finally, GSS passed three resolutions, one old and two new. The first was the resolution to separate undergraduate general fee rates from graduate fee rates. The second resolution was to allocate funding from SAC to the SustainOHIO essay competition, the 11th Annual History Graduate Student Conference and Representative Anielski’s Mental Health Talk. Funding will also go toward the Star Parker: Your Mental Health and Valentine’s Day cards for the OU Medical Mentoring program. This decision was contingent on all events and activities being available to all graduate students. The third resolution was similar, also moving funding from the GSS budget to SustainOHIO, the 11th Annual History Graduate Student Conference and Valentine’s Day cards for the OU Medical Mentoring program. Another event receiving funding was a “multicultural extravaganza,” described as a “ball” for graduate students.