GPSA discusses department representation issues

New bylaw changes could affect certain off-campus students



Senator Michael Craven, left, and Director of Internal Affairs Susan Williams addresses questions and concerns with proposed changes to the GPSA bylaws at Monday night’s meeting.

CHERYL AARNIO, Evergreen reporter

The GPSA Internal Affairs Committee proposed bylaw changes in the Senate’s meeting Monday night.

The committee proposed changing the word “department” to “academic unit” in the bylaws. This will redefine who can get a Senate seat so Research and Extension (R&E) students will be able to hold a Senate seat, said GPSA Director of Internal Affairs Susan Williams.

The language GPSA uses in the bylaws is different than the language WSU uses, Williams said.

This change would make the bylaws more accurate and flexible, she said.

There are about 60 graduate and professional students who do research in the field at R&E centers in other cities, but those R&E students are technically Pullman students, Williams said.

If R&E students had a Senate seat, it would make sure their voice is heard and that the issues they face are being talked about, she said.

The students at R&E centers have a better relationship among themselves than they do to other students, said Margaret McCoy, GPSA Senator for CAHNRS in Horticulture.

“I don’t know a thing about the people in my department,” McCoy said.

Williams said the bylaws would also be changed to fix problems with apportionment, which is the number of Senator seats each department has based on its number of students and how many total seats there are in the Senate.

The bylaws do not address when a student is part of two departments. For instance, someone might be trying to get two master’s degrees that are not in the same department. Sometimes, the student is seen as being part of both departments, Williams said.

Michael Craven, GPSA senator for accounting in the College of Business, said a student has a stake in the issues of both the units, but for voting, it is difficult to determine what unit they should be able to vote in.

“We’re always choosing a level of aggregation, or pulling people together, to make sure that we’re … getting the right diversity and representation and not overwhelming ourselves with too many people,” Craven said.

Williams said the bylaw changes would also simplify the way people can petition for representation.

She said the student trying to petition needs to know a lot of information, which can be difficult for someone who does not have that knowledge.

If the change were to occur, a student would only have to ask the question of whether or not they could be represented in the Senate, and the Internal Affairs committee would find out the answer, Craven said.

GPSA Senators will continue to discuss this issue in future meetings.