Graduate Council Fueds: What Really Happened

Posted on February 18, 2010

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What really happened at last night’s GPSC meeting

(The wildcat was there, but left early. Originally published 2/27/10)

 (Brian Mori, who has written reports for this site in the past, offers this dispatch from last night’s contentious GPSC meeting.)

The Graduate and Professional Student Council halted their weekly meeting Wednesday night and evoked executive session privacy to discuss “personnel issues”  shortly after English Graduate Union Co-Chairwoman Erica Cirillo-McCarthy questioned Talenfeld about his public voicing of stances on fees that differed from those of the council. 

The Arizona Daily Wildcat published an editorial written by Talenfeld that seemed to endorse a philosophical “no other alternative” stance to accepting all proposed student fees, what some GPSC representatives said runs contrary to that of the council’s and graduate students wishes.  

 “Some of my students are on scholarship that only covers (base) tuition. When these fees go up $1,000, it comes out of their pockets,” said EGU Co-Chair Laura Bivona after the meeting.   Bivona explained that graduate students, who are offered tuition waivers to teach undergraduate classes, face extra hardships because they are still responsible to pay student fees.

 “I’m personally troubled that (university) administrators influenced your decisions,” Cirillo-McCarthy told Talenfeld during the public portion of the meeting. “You should express the concerns of the students.  The CEO’s and CFO’s, we need to influence them and have them come to our side.”  

 Both ASUA and GPSC agreed to support President Robert Shelton in requesting the Arizona Board of Regents approve increases to support budget gaps in the UA library system, improved internet technology throughout campus, and a combined health and recreation fee.  

GPSC has declined to endorse instituting other fees like those proposed by the grass-roots activist organization Arizona Public Interest Research Group and Campus Sustainability, both of which want access to students funds to provide support for environmental and other research.

Bivona and Cirillo-McCarthy also take issue with Talenfeld signing his “personal” letter as GPSC President:  “We’ve talked to our constituents about what they want,” Bivona said.  

The joint statement released Tuesday can be read online on GPSC’s webpage.   Talenfeld apologized for vagueness in his Daily Wildcat letter that did not specify it was of his own personal opinion, but stated that he still believes fee endorsement decisions should be made publicly and by votes of elected student representatives.  

“I want for you and your constituents to be aware that I have been diligently voicing your opinions in my meetings with President Shelton and the Provost,” Talenfeld said. “The purpose of the letter to the Wildcat was to explain where we disagree.”  

The GPSC constitution lists “misrepresentation of the GPSC to outside persons” as grounds for impeachment of representatives.  

 “It’s not what we voted for. The (ASUA & GPSC) statement says ‘hey let’s break this down and negotiate this and (Talenfeld’s) letter says otherwise,” Cirillo-McCarthy said.   

Talenfeld said he believes students need to consider looking ahead to establish long term financial support for issues that matter to students, and that does not run contrary to GPSC’s overall position to represent students.  

 “I don’t think there is a contradiction. I’ve issued a personal letter why some amounts, novel increased fees (in addition to the $720) should be considered by students,” Talenfeld said. “My impression has been if we don’t give a little ground to pay for this education than nobody else will.”  

College of Engineering Representative Robert Jacobi, who initiated the vote to evoke executive session said “it’s hard to say” whether or not Talented intentionally misrepresented the GPSC.

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