Marquette Wire

Graduate students master Senate proposal

Jackie Palank

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Knauss said he was a member of a committee along with students from several other academic departments — Timothy Brunk and Kenneth Yossa of the theology department, Michael Jordan of the philosophy department and Christopher Miller of the history department — to build interest in and show there is a need for a graduate student Senate.

The committee itself did not work to build the Senate, Knauss said, but only to generate attention to the idea by sending out letters and holding elections for department representatives.

“We want to facilitate discussion between the different graduate student programs,” Knauss said. “Undergraduates have so many organizations because it’s in their culture. We would like to see that culture for graduate students.”

A main issue among graduate students is obtaining health insurance, Knauss said, and this issue was one of the factors that piqued his interest in establishing a Senate.

“It will be easier to work on a committee where the members have common concerns; in this case, just graduate students,” Knauss said.

Other colleges and departments within Marquette have their own graduate associations, but Knauss and Miller said they would like to see an umbrella organization of graduate students from all departments analogous to MUSG.

According to Knauss, the departments, which the committee members belong to, are currently working to elect representatives.

“The resulting group must define itself by generating its own by-laws and constitution,” Knauss said.

Miller, who was the elected representative for the history department, called the election process “like the Constitutional Convention.” He said he was the only representative elected so far.

The English department has nominated four candidates, Knauss said, and will hold elections soon. According to Miller, the philosophy and theology departments are currently working to schedule their elections.

The committee hopes other academic departments will get involved.

Knauss also said that many other universities have associations like what his committee is trying to build interest in, both formally and informally structured.

According to Miller, similar organizations previously existed at Marquette. Evidence of a graduate association can be found in the university archives, and records indicate this body existed in the 1960s through the early 1970s.

The association had a budget of $1,000, Miller said, and the records also mentioned a graduate student activity fee, which he said he thought was interesting since only undergraduates pay that fee now.

Miller was not aware of why the organization dissolved or how effective it was.

“The records could make it sound more organized than it was,” Miller said.

Knauss acknowledged that getting this organization from an idea to action would be a long process.

“It won’t be built overnight,” Knauss said. “People have got to come and do it for themselves.”

T. Daniel Griffiths, vice provost for research and graduate programs, said he would meet with the students involved in this process next week.

“I am looking forward to talking to the students about my views and experiences with similar organizations on other campuses,” Griffiths said.

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