GPSA addresses mental health, international student costs

Senators concerned about rising expenses for graduate students

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Tammy Barry adresses GPSA

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen reporter

On Monday, WSU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association held its inaugural meeting for this school year.

Tammy Barry, vice provost for graduate and professional education, took up the majority of the meeting discussing goals for the year and addressing the concerns of students. She began her position July 1 and is a professor of the department of psychology.

“I’ve really been concerned about mental health of students in general,” Barry said. “We’re just really getting out of that idea that graduate students are here for a singular purpose.”

However, the changes that Barry said she hopes to make with WSU’s graduate school will take a while to implement, and most likely will begin in 2023 or 2024.

She was asked what her plans are to hold advisers accountable who do not adequately support their students.

Barry is a first generation graduate student and understands the struggles many of them face. She believes some things that will help the situation are support groups for first generation graduate students and better guidance for first generation graduate students who have questions.

Another question posed was about graduate students who are concerned about the rising cost of living in Pullman and how the graduate school intends to help students deal with it.

There are multiple solutions currently being thought about to help students she said. One thing she mentioned is that stipends are currently too low and need to be addressed, but at the moment there is little they can do in that area because there is a pending representation case related.

Barry addressed the cost of visas and said she has begun conversations with the international programs to help students and they are open to working with her to help international students who have been struggling with high costs.

Finally, she discussed if there were any plans to create a process where students coming from other countries where English is the official language already can waive the process of proving their English efficiency.

Barry said she has considered the idea of exceptions to policy waivers and mentioned they are expecting Duolingo testing to be considered an acceptable way to show English proficiency.

After Barry finished, the senators then voted to approve the nominations for the special election of senators in August.

The senators next heard about concerns regarding the last special election in April. Senator Rabayet Sadnan of internal affairs said there was a mistake in the last special election, as one the department of biological science accidentally nominated multiple individuals for one senator position, which is a violation of certain bylaws.

After a brief discussion, the senators voted to consider a suspension to the bylaws for the April special election vote.

The senators approved this year’s budget and discussed their election from last year.

Senator Magdana Kondaridze presented the upcoming programming events, which begin on Wednesday with free ice cream served from 11 a.m-3 p.m. at Ferdinand’s.