In an emergency Senate meeting on Tuesday evening, the Graduate and Professional Student Federation passed a resolution proposing that GPSF become a governing body separate from the undergraduate student government.
GPSF will now have to obtain 2,900 petition signatures by Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. for the bill to be placed on the ballot in the spring elections.
In Monday night’s town hall meeting and the emergency meeting Tuesday, Livingston asked whether GPSF wanted to become a separate governing body or a quasi-independent agency under the student government umbrella.
“The difference in the two resolutions rests on the fundamental ideologies about representation and authority,” Taylor Livingston, GPSF vice president of external affairs, said.
Many graduate students in the Tuesday meeting had questions about the benefits of the separation resolution.
Some said graduate students only represent a small portion of the student body, so more graduate students must vote and become involved if they want to accomplish things.
Student Body Secretary Paige Waltz, a graduate student in public administration, said she wants to be represented in student government.
“I wanted graduate and professional students to be represented in student government, so I went out and applied and was selected to be student body secretary. So there are other opportunities to get involved in oversight and executive branch and other stuff,” Waltz said.
By proposing to separate, GPSF hopes to eventually have an extra graduate voice pushing for graduate students' interests in the Board of Trustees' meetings. As of now, the student body only has one representative — the student body president, Houston Summers.
“Houston has powerful ears that he can whisper into which we do not have that ability as students right now,” Livingston said.
The Student Congress Rules and Judiciary Committee met Tuesday night after the GPSF emergency meeting to propose changes to the ballot on which the new amendments would appear in the spring election. Right now, the ballot allows for students to check yes for both GPSF’s idea of separation and Student Congress’s idea of co-optation, which members said could cause problems.
David Joyner, speaker of Student Congress, said the situation was a potential “constitutional crisis.”
“If their petition is successful, and they’re on the ballot and Congress’s vote is accepted, we would have two conflicting resolutions on the ballot. That means there’s the potential that people could vote yes to both,” Joyner said.
The committee also went over the constitutional compromises they presented to GPSF. The co-optation plan would redefine the role of GPSF within student government.
Student Congress will review all of the plans in its next full body meeting.
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