Some graduate students are concerned with underrepresentation in their student government.
Rachel Austin, a 26-year-old French master’s candidate, said she felt graduate students didn’t have a voice.
“Finding out that the student government only has one representation for all the grad students means we basically don’t have a voice,” Austin said. “If you have one out of eighteen [representatives], you can’t get anything done.”
According to the UCSU Web site, the USCU Legislative Council is divided into the Council of Colleges and Schools, which has one seat for each of the nine schools or colleges on campus, and the Representative Council, which is made up of nine elected representatives. A graduate student can hold any of the seats, but historically few do, said Co-Senator of the Graduate School and Representative of the United Government of Graduate Students Paul Lichty.
Lichty said there’s not a lack of opportunity for graduate students to be heard on campus, just a lack of time.
“The issue is not that the seats aren’t available, it’s just very hard to find a grad student that has enough time to run a campaign and get elected,” said the 26-year-old engineering doctoral candidate.
While time commitment is an issue, Beth Lennon, a 25-year-old first year law student, said she feels graduate students can have their voices heard in different venues.
“One representative could be fine as long as there are other venues for our voice to be heard,” Lennon said. “With the way grad students are, if something really affects us, they will get it changed.”
President of the Legislative Board, 21-year-old Arabic major Blaine Pellicore said the ratio of graduate students to undergradutes is also an important factor to take into account in the decision making process.
“You have to take [the enrollment] into account and knowing [the numbers], the graduate students shouldn’t have an equal voice, but at the same time they are incredibly valuable,” Pellicore said.
According to a CU press release the enrollment numbers fall at 25,408 undergrads versus 4,788 graduate students.
However Lichty said the lack of support on certain issues, such as increasing student fees can be frustrating.
“Grad students are consistently against raising fees,” Lichty said. “We get outvoted pretty regularly. That’s frustrating.”
Pellicore said he feels that because graduate students are a part of the student body, the graduate students should still be held accountable for student fees.
“I understand what they are coming from…but the same could be said for an undergrad who is a triple major or an engineering student,” Pellicore said. “I don’t think it’s fair that because this particular group of students works harder they should be exempt from fees. There are grad students that use the Rec center and Wardenburg and the UMC.”
Despite their differences, Pellicore said he feels a divide doesn’t exist between graduate and undergraduate students as they are both working toward accomplishing a similar goal.
“There is nothing inherent that limits the grad voice,” Pellicore said. “What bothers me most is there seems to be an assumed division between grad and undergrad students on what they each want to see for the student body. While that might be true we all want to create the best environment on campus.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Rose Heaphy at Josephine.firstname.lastname@example.org.