GPSA hosts first official senate meeting for school year

Senate members approved funding for two grad organizations, shared concerns about COVID-19 safety protocols



Lisa Gloss, WSU Graduate School dean, speaks to GPSA senators about the school and its programs.

NICK GIBSON, Evergreen roots editor

WSU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association held its first official senate meeting for the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 30 in the Compton Union Building. 

As the representative body for graduate and professional students, GPSA works to enrich the lives of students academically, professionally and socially, according to GPSA’s website

During the meeting, GPSA approved funding for two graduate organizations on campus. The Graduate Society of Women Engineers was awarded $2,310 and $2,000 was awarded to CAMARADAS. 

GradSWE is a nonprofit educational organization committed to informing, encouraging and empowering female engineering graduate students. Although WSU has had a SWE chapter for some time, GradSWE was founded in the spring of 2021 to cater specifically to graduate students, said GradSWE president Ananyi Manawadu.

Manawadu said she felt motivated to start the organization when she saw the lack of female representation in her graduate level courses. 

“When you’re in a class full of people and you’re the only female student in the class, it can be very intimidating,” Manawadu said. “At the graduate level classes in engineering, women participation is very low in some engineering fields, so, therefore, we thought we should open a specific group for graduate students.”

Manawadu said the funds GPSA approved will be used to facilitate social gatherings and networking opportunities for the group, in addition to helping increase awareness of GradSWE among WSU students. 

She said GradSWE welcomes female graduate students from the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, as well as students of any gender supportive of women engineering. Students interested in getting involved can sign up for the email list or contact Manawadu through Coug Presence to learn more.

Founded in 1993, CAMARADAS serves Chicana/o and Latina/o students both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The organization provides a support system for students, mentoring opportunities and research collaborations. Co-chair Samantha Jaurequi-Edgerton said members are looking forward to expanding now that students are back on campus. 

“We do focus on that grad student aspect of it, but an important part of CAMARADAS  is that we offer mentoring and guidance to undergraduates as well,” Jaurequi-Edgerton said. “Statistics show that Latino graduation rates within the college community are not as high as some other demographics. So, the process here is not only to mentor each other as graduate students but also to be able to give this opportunity to undergraduates as well.”

GPSA also hosted guest speaker Lisa Gloss, WSU Graduate School dean, who addressed senate member concerns regarding COVID-19 safety protocols and the lack of student voices in response planning. She said many graduate students work as teaching assistants for their departments, making them responsible for leading lectures and providing office hours. 

Jaurequi-Edgerton said there should be more student involvement when it comes to the school’s conversations regarding COVID-19 protocols.

“With the increase of students coming back to campus, as well as the lower vaccination rates in the county, not only is the situation ripe for COVID spread, but also breakthrough cases appear to be happening more and more elsewhere,” Jaurequi-Edgerton said. “From an administrative level, there needs to be more dialogue with either GPSA or ASWSU on student protections in the event of breakthrough cases or spread.”