Grad organization granted recognition

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Marquette graduate students now have their own official representation thanks to the two-week-old Marquette Graduate Student Organization.

Concern over the health insurance set this student group in motion, but the GSO has much more planned now that it is officially recognized.

The group formed early in the spring semester in part to address health insurance issues, said Mark Zunac, GSO public relations director and a graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences. It is a student organization, but Zunac described it as the graduate-level equivalent of Marquette Student Government,

Zunac said the organization consists of about 12 student representatives and functions as a liaison between graduate students from all colleges and the administration.

"We'd like to work really closely with the administration to cater to the needs of graduate students," Zunac said.

GSO identified one of those needs as health insurance. According to Zunac, many teaching assistants, most of whom are graduate students, lack adequate health coverage from the university.

The organization collaborated with Student Health Service director Dana Mills to form a Health Insurance Committee to research affordable plans for graduate students, according to Zunac.

GSO also would like to provide graduate students with UPasses, establish a university-wide research symposium, put on social events and create a newsletter.

Jennifer Mabey, a College of Communication TA, said she thought the goal of the organization was socially oriented.

"The graduate student council has always seemed to me as a way to connect graduate students with graduate students and graduate students with administration," Mabey said.

The GSO already addressed one issue last semester, according to Beth Arnold, GSO chair and College of Arts & Sciences graduate student.

The issue revolved around money that was mistakenly taken out of TAs' paychecks. Arnold said the GSO took the responsibility to advise TAs to check their check stubs and see if the amount was correct. The misunderstanding was later cleared up and students were given back their money.

GSO currently does not have assigned leadership positions besides the chair and public relations director. Arnold said some departments of study are still searching for representation.

GSO lacks funding, Zunac said. The organization cannot rely on a student activity fee for support, like MUSG, because graduate students do not pay this fee, according to MUSG Vice President of Communications Nicole Garland, a College of Business Administration senior.

"As the organization really develops, these are the things that will be addressed," Zunac said.

Although the GSO serves graduate students as MUSG serves undergraduate students, the organization did not work with MUSG when developing its organization.

Members of MUSG said they would aid GSO if the organization wanted.

"If they in any way want help in constructing an organization, we're more than willing to help," said College of Health Sciences senior Timothy Lefeber, MUSG president.

Garland seconded Lefeber's offer of assistance.

"We welcome them with open arms," Garland said.

Zunac said it has been challenging to plan meeting times because many graduate students' residences are not centrally located on campus like undergraduates'.

He said the organization will meet once a month, but GSO will increase the number of meetings if significant issues surface.

Any Marquette graduate student can come to the open meetings. The last meeting was Monday in the Alumni Memorial Union. Any questions or concerns should be sent to mugso@hotmail.com.

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