GPSA Senators approve revised legislative agenda

Evening childcare to receive $3,000; UREC board refunds students $5

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SCREENSHOT FROM MEETING

GPSA Senators discussed the implementation of working groups. The groups focus on the main concerns of graduate students, including healthcare, stipends and university housing.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen reporter

GPSA Senators approved their revised legislative agenda for the 2020-21 school year, which includes access to affordable housing, continued access to food pantries, development of healthcare in the community and of online learning services. 

Senators approved the budget for the evening childcare program, reallocating $3,000 for newsletter and activity packets. The activity packets will be distributed around Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Senators discussed possibly creating working groups focused on the main concerns of graduate students, including healthcare, stipends and university housing.

The UREC board has decided to refund students $5, said Rachel Wong, educational psychology doctoral student. 

“Anything more and it will impact UREC operations,” she said. 

Kim Holapa, associate vice president of external engagement and strategic initiatives for the Division of Student Affairs, discussed retention of first-generation graduate and undergraduate students during COVID-19.

Edgerton asked Holapa to comment on what initiatives are the most important for the office currently and how that has changed with the pandemic. 

“We are discussing how we can reinforce support structures, key areas and facilities so that we can stay competitive to retain students,” Holapa said.

Sean Greene, interim associate vice president of facilities and operations for the Division of Student Affairs, discussed graduate student housing. 

There are plans to expand graduate housing in the master plan, Greene said. There have been no changes made since 2015 and the university’s percentage of inventory is the lowest in the Pacific Northwest. 

The Pullman housing market needs to be understood because there has been an increase in high-end housing, Greene said. Many of these housing options are very expensive.

“We are trying to cater to students who do not want a community swimming pool or a single bedroom lease,” Greene said.

Mikala Meize, doctoral candidate in criminal justice and criminology, is asking graduate students to send photos of themselves wearing a mask and explaining why they wear a mask.

“We want to make a short video for social media,” Meize said. “We want people to know that graduate students are taking COVID-19 seriously.”

Linda McDermott, assistant vice president of finance for the Division of Student Affairs, met with GPSA senators to discuss finance and operations. She offered to help GPSA write legislation about tuition and fees. 

Stephen Onayemi, masters student in the Department of Entomology, was voted into the position of senator at large representing the graduate school.

There are three upcoming professional development initiatives, said Samantha Edgerton, doctoral student in history.

The first event is “Academic Integrity for Graduate Students” with Karen Metzner and Adam Hathcock at 11 a.m. on Sept. 29. The second is “Submitting Your Thesis and Dissertation” with Daniel Vickoren and Kelly Caraher at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2. The third event is “Writing Lock-in 1” at 9 a.m. on Oct. 7, Edgerton said.