By Tacie Holyoak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday April 14, 2003
Only 5 percent of the almost 9,000 UA graduate and professional students voted in last week's Graduate and Professional Student Council elections.
The weeklong elections came to a close Friday evening, after being extended an extra day. The nine new members of the council have high hopes of initiating improvement within the graduate community.
The new council will get started with only 12 members, which is half the size of this year's council. Openings for representatives remain in the colleges of fine arts, medicine, pharmacy, social and behavioral sciences and public health.
Much of the lack of representation from some colleges also contributed to the lack of voter turnout.
However, current GPSC President Pete Morris said he was impressed by the number of students in some colleges who took advantage of the online voting system.
Almost 10 percents of students in the Eller College of Business and Public Administration and the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences went to the polls, Morris said.
The institution of new officers comes after a year of extraordinary challenges. The 2002-2003 GPSC worked to protect graduate students from the effects of the largest tuition hike in Arizona state history.
"It's been difficult this year," Morris said. "There were very hard issues on the table."
Among those issues were efforts to provide need-based financial aid and secure tuition remission for both teaching and research assistants.
Despite the hard times, this has been an exceptional year, Morris said.
Although he will not be rerunning for office, Morris does plan to stay involved with the GPSC.
"Making the transitions work is a big priority for me," he said.
Next year's GPSC representatives have already set goals to continue to improve the quality of life for graduate students.
"I am excited," said Brittney Williams, the new representative from the Eller College of Business and Public Administration. "I want to focus on bringing the concerns of the students to the university's attention."
Amrita Chugh, the College of Engineering's representative-elect, hopes to increase student participation within her college.
"Above all," she said, "I would like to help GPSC improve the quality of (graduate) education available at UA."
Others, like Ken Cardell, optical sciences, plan to do what they can to make sure administrators know what graduate students need.
Graduate students interested in running will have the opportunity during a special election next semester.
Morris encourages graduate students to get to know their colleges' representatives and become involved.
"These next few years promise to be critical for graduate students issues as the University of Arizona competes for funding and redefines its mission," said education representative Veronica Diaz. "Participation will not only impact current graduate students, but those yet to arrive."
The 2003-2004 GPSC council will be sworn in next week at the April 22 GPSC meeting. Officers will also be officially elected during the meeting. Until then, new members will be trained and versed in policy and current issues facing graduate students.