GPSS addresses concerns of benefits for graduate student


The Graduate Professional Student Senate meets once a month in the Sunroom at Memorial Union, while also offering the meetings in a virtual format via Webex.

Biong Biong

GPSS senators continue to seek answers from Iowa State University administration regarding graduate students’ status as employees.

At the first meeting of 2022, the senators also addressed the concerns of international students, as well as hosting presentations from Student Government Election Committee and The International Student and Scholars Office.

President of GPSS Chelsea Iennarella-Servantez is a concurrent DVM/PhD student at the College of Veterinary Medicine co-majoring in biomedical sciences and animal science. She discussed the issues surrounding graduate students and retirement benefits from ISU.  

“We’ve been working with the Board of Regents and  [The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost] to seek clarification on grad student status, in regard to their status as an employee,” said Iennarella-Servantez. “And we’ve kinda been given the runaround by university legal.”

Iennarella-Servantez said that representatives from the Provost’s office have been slow in getting back to the GPSS with a response as to the status of graduate students as employees. She also said that she is seeking to expedite the communications between the parties. Getting clarification on the status of graduate students would allow many to know whether or not they are to be offered retirement benefits from the university.

The meeting was led by Vice President Rachel Sorensen, a graduate student majoring in toxicology.

“One of the things that I have come to realize in the last month or two is that a lot of the international student population is not feeling heard,” said Sorensen. 

The GPSS will be holding two town hall meetings to address concerns that international students may have. The first of the two will be a closed meeting, only accessible by graduate and professional students, with the second meeting allowing groups associated with international students to be present, such as the International Student and Scholars Office (ISSO). Tentative times for the meetings will be announced at a later date.

Representatives from the Student Government Election Committee held a presentation on how to get involved with student government, stressing the importance of graduate and professional student representation.

The representatives expressed that any undergraduate students who will be a graduate student by fall 2022 could run for graduate level senate positions. 

ISSO gave a presentation expressing the services they offer to international students. ISSO offers services ranging from scholarships and immigration assistance, to social events and tax assistance.   

The LAS College Committee announced a new committee chair— Kelsey Zimmerman— a graduate student majoring in English.