The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday April 23rd

Letter: Graduate and professional students should vote 'Yes' on March 2

On March 2, graduate and professional students at UNC will take two important votes — one to elect the next president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, and the second to change the name of the federation itself.

In December, acting on the recommendation of the Select Committee on the Future of GPSF, the GPSF Senate approved a resolution to change the name of GPSF to “Graduate and Professional Student Government.” 

In accordance with Chapter 3 of the UNC Student Constitution, that recommendation now goes before the graduate and professional student body for a final vote. I write today to urge my fellow students to vote in favor of this measure.

The Graduate and Professional Student Federation was founded in 1971 to represent the interests of and advocate on behalf of those students seeking a post-baccalaureate degree. In 2017, it became a wholly autonomous branch of Student Government, and for the first time, graduate and professional students could claim a share of UNC’s historic commitment to student self-governance for themselves.

Unfortunately, there is a continued misconception across the University among students, faculty and staff that the Undergraduate executive and legislative branches constitute the entirety of “Student Government” — perpetuated in no small part by the fact that, to date, no graduate or professional student has ever held the office of student body president. 

This has resulted in inadequate outreach to and representation of GPSF and its constituents in a variety of institutional structures and decision-making processes.

To be sure, we have improved our station significantly since 2017, and are appreciative of those leaders, including Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, who have recognized the important work that GPSF is doing. 

However, the full realization of our governing potential requires changing an institutional culture, which can only be achieved through patience and concerted effort. 

Designating the governing body for graduate and professional students as a “government” instead of a “federation” will further that work by properly reflecting our constitutionally endowed authority as a co-equal branch of Student Government.

Help us continue our work for graduate and professional students by voting “Yes” on March 2.

Ryan M. Collins

President, Graduate and Professional Student Federation

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