By J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Last week, UA graduate students voted in favor of allowing the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council to become the graduate student representative to the Arizona Students' Association.
More than 600 UA graduate students voted in favor of the change. An online poll conducted by the GPSC revealed that 534 out of 621 students were in favor of GPSC representation, said Paul Thorn, GPSC vice president of external affairs.
Members of the GPSC have argued that ASA doesn't include proper graduate representation from the UA even with the creation of the graduate student position last year, Thorn said.
Thorn said last year's Associated Students of the University of Arizona president, Alistair Chapman, agreed to create a fifth seat for graduate students in the UA's ASA representation.
Chapman would not agree to open up the position to a general election of the graduate student body or agree to allow the seat to be appointed by the GPSC, instead allowing for the ASUA president to appoint a graduate student to the seat. All UA appointments to the ASA are made by the ASUA president, Thorn said.
Chapman declined to comment for this story.
ASUA President Cade Bernsen, after taking office, appointed Samuel Chang to the graduate student seat, said Elaine Ulrich, GPSC president.
Ulrich said the GPSC is not seeking to remove Chang from his position, saying he is doing a "very good job" representing graduate and professional students. She said she wanted to present the data from the poll to ASUA, hoping to persuade ASUA to allow the next GPSC president to assume the role this spring.
"It is indeed what graduate students want," Ulrich said.
Erin Hertzog, ASUA executive vice president, said it is appropriate for Bernsen to choose the representative for the graduate position because ASUA represents all students on the UA campus and should be able to appoint students to ASA.
GPSC contends ASUA does not speak for graduate and professional students, and it offers true representation because they deal with issues specific to graduate students.
Hertzog, who sat on a committee that chose the person for the ASA graduate seat, said the appointment of Chang was competitive and several students from GPSC were considered for the position.
The ASA is a student association that lobbies for student needs with the Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona Legislature. It comprises students from the UA, UA South, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and ASU West.
The ASA Web site lists Cade Bernsen, Fernando Ascencio, Christopher Dang, Andrew Record and Chang as members of ASA. Ben Graff, the student regent for the Arizona Board of Regents is also a member of ASA. Gena Louden and Lauren Chase represent UA South for ASA.