By Christie S. Peterson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Fifty percent of all new marriages end in divorce, and if the Graduate and Professional Student Council has its way, the two-year-old union between itself and the undergraduate student government will also soon come to an end.
At its April 6 meeting, the council was presented with five options for its future, ranging from assimilation with the undergraduate council in a unicameral system to complete secession from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. Members voted for their two favorite options.
No one option received the required two-thirds vote for a constitutional change. Combined, the three choices which entailed some form of split garnered the two-thirds which resulted in a formal vote for autonomy.
From here, the split may be made official with a three-fourths vote of the Central Coordinating Council or approval by UA President Manuel T. Pacheco's cabinet.
Before that can be done, however, one of the three approved options must be selected and each option has its own set of problems.
Although the separation option received the most votes, it is only in preliminary stages of formation. Separation under the Graduate College does not include the colleges of medicine or law. And Saundra Taylor, vice president of Student Affairs, said separating under the Department of Student Affairs simply wouldn't work.
"We want to be autonomous," said GPSC President Mitzi Forbes. "We don't really care how."
In a previous interview, GPSC Vice President Matthew Troth said the unicameral system which would have equal numbers of graduate and undergraduate members on one council was unacceptable because the graduate student voice "would always be a minority" and graduate students would not be adequately represented through at-large voting procedures.
The remaining option was supported by a minority which saw no reason to change the current system consisting of the undergraduate senate, the GPSC, the Central Coordinating Council with representatives from each, and two vice presidents and a president who are to represent the entire student body.
"I reject the notion that we have to . defend staying as is," said council member Gordon Zaft. "The fact is, some issues pertain to graduates, some to undergraduates, and a great deal to both."
A more effective division of the issues important to each body was discussed by several members at the meeting, and was often cited as reason for the split.
"What we don't want to deal with are political games," said Forbes. "Neither body can do advocacy because we're spending so much time trying to collect elements that get out of control, and we want out of that game.
"The needs and desires of graduate and undergraduate students are not always the same," Troth said. He said the GPSC does not "really care about the bylaws of ASUA," something both bodies have spent much time on this semester.
Graduate students make up 22.9 percent of the student body and are requesting a proportional amount of the student fees that fund ASUA if they leave.
"There is a better way," said senator Ethan Orr, "but I don't think a separation is that way."
Orr also called a possible separation of the two bodies a "logistical nightmare."
ASUA President-elect Ben Driggs, when asked for his recommendation by the GPSC, called the split "premature," "not well thought out," and said they "don't know the implications" of such an action.
However, Driggs also said he is "willing to listen and work with GPSC on how we can come to a consensus and better serve students."
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