Candidates, cuts and changes discussed at GPSS meeting

Plant Pathology and Microbiology Senator Muhammad Mohsin Raza (left), Toxicology Senator and nominee for treasurer Niranjana Krishnan (middle), and first Senator of Aerospace Engineering Veera Sajjanapu listen to Student Body president candidates delivering their platforms.

Jillian Alt

Budget cuts were discussed during the monthly Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) meeting on Monday night in the South Ballroom of the Memorial Union for the first time in five years according to GPSS Treasurer Maria Mantilla Perez, due to the decrease of incoming graduate students.

“This is the first meeting in five years where a GPSS treasurer needs to discuss a deficit and cuts.”

The deficit is approximately $8000, and GPSS will be experiencing large cuts in order to prevent this impacting graduate students. Four thousand five hundred dollars will be cut from the Professional Advancement Grants (PAG), and the Graduate and Professional Student Research Conference will be losing $2000 as well as other smaller cuts.  

On the topic of cuts, President Vivek Lawana discussed the potential of the annual stipend increase for graduate assistants no longer happening and expressed his concern about this. The current minimum stipend is $2000 per month and was supposed to be raised to $2100, so for a full year graduate assistant, this is a difference of $1200. 

“This is unwelcome news for all grad students and we should voice our opinion,” Lawana said. 

On top of that, there is a proposed system being discussed at an administrative level that would affect graduate assistants. Currently, professors can have graduate assistants as long as their grant provides. However if this new system is approved, there will be ‘terms’ of 4.5 months, one semester and one year that will be required.

“What this means is if a professor’s grant for research only provides a graduate assistant for three months, they would not be able to have one,” Lawana said.  

Vice President George Weston discussed finalizations of chapter nine of the Iowa State University Handbook, and reported after months of work, they are very close to a final agreement. 

“There were no major issues that they had and only minor changes should be made” Weston said.

Weston said very few issues remain and they are minor, one of them being wording in the legislation regarding “expected practices of mentors and chairs” versus “suggested practices of mentors and chairs.” 

“I will fight to get it back to expected,” said Weston. 

Student Body President Candidates Ben Whittington and Julian Neely attended, as well as Vice Presidential Candidate Jocelyn Simms, to present their platforms to the GPSS. Vice Presidential Candidate Juan Bibiloni was unable to attend due to being busy at the state house.

Both candidates provided overviews of their platform, as well as responding to questions from senators, about topics from relations between GPSS and Student Government to residential hall furniture being provided by prisoner labor. 

Both candidates are speaking in the Presidential Debate at 7 p.m. tonight in the Gallery Room of the Memorial Union. More details can be found here.  

On the topic of candidates, nominations for executive council for GPSS were announced on Monday night, and there are nominees for only four of the six positions, with no candidates for vice president or university relations legislative affairs (URLA). 

Current nominees are:

President: Norin Yasin Chaudhry

Vice President: No nominees

Treasurer: Niranjana Krishnan

Treasurer: Rui Ding

Chief Information Officer: Shuang (Sophie) Zhai

Research Conference Chair: Niranjana Krishnan

Research Conference Chair: Rui Ding

University Relations Legislative Affairs (URLA) Chair: No nominees

Professional Advancement Grants (PAG) Chair: Eleanor Field

In announcements, Lawana presented Graduate Student Wellness Week in partnership with the Student Wellness Center, Student Affairs and the Graduate College which will take place the week of April 9 to April 13, which is National Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week. 

Also in announcements was a presentation for a Cyclone Carnival by Scott Fisk of IRHA. The event will take place April 14 and will include food vendors, rides and activities, sales, and much more.

The next meeting is March 26 and will take place in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.