By Joseph Altman Jr.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Three candidates will be on today's Graduate and Professional Student Council special election ballot.
The election was originally scheduled to take place Nov. 30, but was postponed after miscommunication between Associated Students of the University of Arizona and GPSC election officials.
In the faculty of social and behavioral sciences, the only contested race, Sara Gardner and Jennifer Torrington will square off for one available seat, said GPSC Elections Officer Carolina Deschapelles.
Gordon Zaft is the only candidate in the election for the non-degree-seeking representative, and no candidate was found for the faculty of humanities, Deschapelles said.
She said Jennifer Ellis, who has been filling the seat until an election could be held, will continue to act as the humanities representative.
Torrington is a political science graduate student who was also at the UA as an undergraduate. She said she is running because she has been impressed with the issues GPSC is interested in.
The main issue she said she wants to pursue as a representative is a waiver of registration fees for graduate students.
Torrington said students who work as teaching assistants make about $7,000 per year, but then must pay $2,000 in tuition, making a graduate student's income "pretty close to qualifying for welfare."
"(Undergraduates) qualify for need-based grants, but if you're a graduate student, you don't qualify for that," she said.
Torrington also said graduate program rankings not only depend on the quality of the faculty but also on the quality of the graduate students.
"There seems to be a lack of recognition for the importance of research and
work done by graduate students," she said, adding that helping the students by waiving in-state tuition would provide that recognition.
Torrington said she also would like to work toward added benefits for graduate students, including subsidized child care and a health care benefits package.
Gardner could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Zaft, the only non-degree-seeking candidate, said he is interested in the position because he thinks that there is a lot that needs to be done to help graduate students.
"We fall in a black hole as far as the university is concerned," Zaft said.
"There are 1,100 (non-degree-seeking graduate students). That's one-seventh of all graduate students, but they're the kind of great unwatched majority," he said.
Zaft said non-degree-seeking students have no departmental connections and are often going to class while working full-time and raising a family.
He said his goal is "to get some communication going. Basically, to try and find ways to let them know what is going on that they might be interested in."
Voting for the SBS seat will take place today in Social Sciences Room 217. Voting for non-degree seeking students will be held in ASUA's offices above the ASUA bookstore. Polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only graduate students from those two areas are eligible to vote.
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