The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Graduate students seek a stronger voice

Many undergraduate students know Marquette Student Government acts as a representative voice that seeks to achieve change throughout the year. Graduate students are now seeking a way to fund a revised Graduate Student Organization that will allow its members an equally influential voice.

According to Craig Pierce, assistant dean of the Graduate School, the GSO has been organized by the Graduate School Office for five years. The organization gives graduate students a voice in some university decision-making that affects them, he said.

The first step in making the change is to seek and achieve graduate student approval and support.

The GSO recently requested all students in the Graduate School, the Graduate School of Management and the Law School take a survey asking whether they would be willing to pay an annual fee to support the organization. According to Jeff Janz, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, this fee would be about $25 and work similarly to the undergraduate Student Activity Fee.

John Brenner, chair of the GSO, said the only way for the GSO to currently receive funding is through fundraisers. In past years, the GSO has held only one fundraiser — selling Stone Creek coffee. He said this approach does not provide enough funds to accomplish what GSO members want.

Brenner said the proposed fee would cover travel grants for graduate students and allow them to host speakers on campus.

A general funding base to cover travel grants is important for students studying to be professionals, because nationwide seminars throughout the year provide helpful hands-on training, Brenner said.

Additionally, the funding base would cover costs of social events for graduate students, he said.

“We want to foster graduate students getting together and getting to know each other’s issues,” Brenner said.

Brenner said another important change that would be made to the GSO is giving graduate students a more profound voice on the administrative level. Since graduate students represent about one-third of the student body, he said those voices deserve to be heard.

“When changes happen on campus, they’re mainly focused on the undergraduate portion of the students,” Brenner said.

Brenner said the survey was an important first step that will help gauge student interest. With positive feedback, Brenner said the GSO will be able to push forward in accomplishing the changes. Without it, the GSO will likely have to scale back its involvement, reassess options or stick to current practices.

Pierce said about 3,200 graduate students were surveyed and the majority approved paying an annual fee. The Graduate School had an overall 70 percent approval rate, the Graduate School of Management had a 57 percent approval rate and the Law School had less than 50 percent approval.

Janz said though the survey results are important, it might be difficult for some students to envision changes based only on a small survey.

In fact, Brenner said he is confident these changes will not be visible until the 2011-’12 academic year at the earliest.

“I’m a strong advocate of student input into the process of the university operations,” Janz said. “Anything we could do to facilitate more students’ input into the variety of things, we are well served.”

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