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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

GRADUATE STUDENT UNION: Graduate Student Union works on new library computers, other goals

New computers in the Hesburgh Library, progress on graduate student parking and collaboration with the Student Affairs task force to evaluate graduate student life are among the accomplishments of the Graduate Student Union (GSU) this semester.

The organization, which was founded in 1969, bears the majority of responsibilities and duties concerning graduate student life.

"We try to meet the needs of grad students, whether they are medical, social, academic, or professional," GSU president Misty Schieberle said. "Our goal is to develop or supplement past programs and initiatives and also strive to get something more."

One of the newest and most significant accomplishments of the Union has been the installation of the Medical Separation policy, which allows students to have an up to six week leave from academic duties under the case of a "serious medical condition."

The new policy is an alternative to the Graduate Student Leave of Absence policy, which only offers a leave for an extended amount of time.

The GSU also helped devise a graduate student life survey that will assess the quality and issues of graduate student life. Schieberle hopes this survey will generate results useful to the GSU's mission.

"The administration and Student Affairs committee have organized a task force that will survey the current status of graduate student life with the goal of funding future development," Schieberle said. "We've been working very much together with the task force on the survey and we think it will produce results we can use in the years to come."

The GSU consists of 39 departmental representatives, 12 committee chairs and elected officers. It represents graduate students in the College of Science, the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Letters. These representatives bring matters of concern from their respective colleges to the GSU to weigh the issue and determine the best way to address it.

"The chain of communication strives for representation from every department," Schieberle said.

Next semester, the GSU is planning to host the regional National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS) conference in the spring.

Notre Dame will also send several graduate students to the national NAGPS conference in February, where they will meet with U.S. Representatives and participate in a day of lobbying for legislation for those continuing in higher education, Schieberle said. The proposed legislation would make graduate student stipends tax exempt, thus lessening post-college debt.