GPSA calls Congress

From staff reports

As phones in D.C. rang throughout the afternoon, the financial concerns of graduate and professional students filled the ears of congress members on National Call Congress Day.

Many in congress do not understand the impact of the work graduate students do, said Shane Reynolds, a Ph.D. candidate at WSU studying chemical engineering.

Reynolds said many congress members are lawyers who have little experience in conducting research and are unaware of the time it takes and how to obtain funding.

“Often times they see what we do as not important,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he called Washington Senator Patty Murry and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers because bill H.R. 32-93 passed through the House of Representatives.

The bill would limit funding from the National Science Foundation, Reynolds said.

It would also take grant money directly out of WSU, Reynolds said, which is usually spent within the state.

By voting for the bill, Reynolds said Rodgers is taking money out of Washington State to spend elsewhere.

“I don’t know if they think we’re made of money,” said Stephanie Washburn, College of Veterinary Medicine professional student and GPSA senator.

After talking to numerous congress members, GPSA Director of Legislative Affairs Kathryn Harris said most of those in Congress believe professional students make a minimum of around $100,000 upon graduation. However, on average they make around $60,000 to $80,000 after obtaining a job, Harris said.

For example, according to a 2015 survey of WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine graduates, the average accepted full-time salary is $75,750. However, the average amount of debt for graduates of the college is over $107,000 upon graduation, according to the survey.

Reynolds said he is going to Washington D.C. in about two weeks to participate in a workshop on how science policy is made in legislature. While in D.C., Reynolds said he wants to meet with at least one of Rodgers’ staffers to talk about the bill.

“The more we pester them, the better,” said Shantel Martinez, a GPSA senator.

Reporting by Darold Lee Bivens