GPSA hears from Transit Advisory Group on fee increase

GPSA discusses potential Student Transit Fee increase, GPSA General Election is now open and closes March 10th at 11:59 PM.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor

The Graduate and Professional Student Association heard from the Transit Advisory Group on a proposed 5% increase for all fee-paying graduate students at their meeting Monday. 

Chris Boyan, a representative from the Transit Advisory Group, said the proposal is that TAG is recommending a 5% increase in the student transit fee to help maintain current transit levels. 

“The current semester transit fee is $36.50. A 5% increase would make it a $1.80 increase per semester” Boyan said. 

Boyan said this goal may be hard to realize given the potential decrease in enrollment, S&A requests are never a guarantee and high inflation.  The last major increase was in the 2017/2018 school year, when students voted to increase the student transit fee by $5 per semester. For this motion to pass, both GPSA and ASWSU have to vote in approval by a ⅔ majority vote.

After the presentation, the floor was opened for discussion. The first question was if an increase in bus services will lead to problems with students finding parking and increase traffic. Boyan said if bus services decrease then it will hurt transportation efforts, due to more traffic and parking.

The next question was to specify what “maintaining current transportation levels” entails and what might be cut if there is no increase, as well as what the benefits will be if there is a fund increase and what might change.

Boyan said at the moment there are problems with transportation not only due to funding, but due to hiring people to run the transit services.

Boyan said there was hardly any service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transit has since resumed service but the only difference is they do not run as late as they once did. 

“What would most likely be cut is how late the service runs into the night and how frequent the service is,” Boyan said.

The representatives were asked how transit can improve services if this fee is passed, and how much money might be needed to improve services. Boyan said it would take an overhaul in the current system of funding transit to be able to improve transit and that there would be a major discussion on this next year.

The last question was how much of the funding is between WSU students and the city of Pullman. Boyan said the city of Pullman applies for state and federal grants and that WSU funds about 32% of the overall budget.


Next, the senators voted to approve Anastasia Vishnevskaya as the at-large representative of the Murrow College of Communication. The next candidate the senators chose to approve of was Sajjad Uddin as the at-large representative of the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

The senators also voted to approve both Prabesh Khanal and Charles Ugwu as GPSA senators at large. GPSA President Samantha Edgerton then discussed the GPSA general election for the 2023/2024 school year.

The first vote was for the executive board candidates. The candidates were Ajay Barman for President and Marwa Aly for Vice President.

“Thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk about students’ problems,” Barman said. “As president, my job will also be bringing us all together. If you are here today, representing your department or college, one thing is common in all of us because we want to do something.”

When asked what their plan for the future would be, Barman said the first order of business for him would be increasing safety on campus. However, Barman said he would like to hear from the GPSA senators as well about what they think are the most important issues.

Aly said food insecurity, housing, health care and child care would be some of the most important issues she wants to focus on. 

Barman and Aly were asked if they have any improvements to GPSA they’d like to make during their tenure. Aly said GPSA needs to reach out to all the graduate students they can and have opportunities for graduate students on all campuses.

Barman was asked what his plans were to improve participation in GPSA and try to help fill senate positions. Barman said in part they will try to reach out to as many graduate students as possible to try to help fill vacant positions.

Aly was asked how she envisions GPSA’s role in partnership with the graduate student union. Aly said the union and GPSA advocate for the same things and work in cooperation with one another.

The next person to speak was Tathagata Pal, a fourth year graduate student and candidate for vice president for legislative affairs. The senators then heard from the college representative candidates.

The first college representative nominee was Ahhriatheresa Kirkendall, representative for the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.

The senators also heard from Jeremy Boutin, also a nominee for the CAHNRS representative.

“If voted into this position, I would really like to advocate for the chair position for the community affairs committee to improve the feeling of community on campus,” Boutin said.

Boutin said he would improve the sense of community by promoting helping the community, with one example being planning events that help the homeless population. But first, he would like to send a survey out that would ask the community what the major points they would like to see worked on are.

The next candidate was Madison Honig, nominee for the representative for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Another candidate was Ashley Wells, who also sought the position of representative for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“All in all I feel I have the leadership skills, the drive and the passion,” Wells said.

The candidate for the representative for the college of education was Golrokh Maleki, who spoke next.

There were three nominees for representative for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, the first of which being Sajjad Uddin Mahmud.

“I believe that my experience with GPSA will help me to guide my friends and my colleagues in this department,” Mahmud said.

The next candidate for representative for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture was Abodh Poudyal, who was not present at the meeting.

The final candidate for representative for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture was Kunal Sanghvi.

Voting for these positions will take place online, in addition to a referendum for Cougar Food Pantry funding GPSA will vote on.