Equity for Emory Grad Students: A Message from your GSGA President
Dec 7, 2016 by Jared Greenbaum
Dear Emory Graduate Students,
On Monday night in a historic vote, the Student Government Association (SGA) Legislature passed a bill by an overwhelming majority to restructure student government at Emory to create more equity between graduate and undergraduate students.
Since the beginning of the semester, your Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) and all eight divisional councils have been working hard to create a more equitable system of student governance at Emory University. In our current system, all graduate divisional councils (including GSGA) report to the undergraduate-led SGA. Additionally, undergraduates fill 23 of 39 seats in the SGA Legislature, which is responsible for passing all official SGA legislation, controls the Student Activity Fee distribution, and oversees student policy and programming. This distribution of voice and control does not match the make-up of the University, which is currently about 50% graduate students and 50% undergraduate students.
Unfortunately, this 50-year-old system has allowed the graduate student voice on this campus to be marginalized, and that is something your graduate leadership has not and will not stand for. In November, a group of undergraduate and graduate legislators and executives (including six graduate divisional presidents) proposed a bill to the SGA Legislature that would restructure SGA to create two equal and autonomous governing bodies that would be governed by and for graduate and undergraduate students, respectively. Both bodies could then come together, as equals, to work on university-wide issues.
Earlier this week, that bill was passed by majority of the SGA Legislature. The need for stronger and more equitable graduate student representation and voice on Emory’s campus is clear. The vote on Monday proved that our message has been heard and the overwhelming need for change has been recognized. The text of the bill can be found here and I encourage you to reach out to GSGA and/or any of your graduate divisional councils and representatives with questions.
To implement large governmental changes such as this, the SGA Constitution requires that all students vote on the issue. The next step in this process will be a University-wide referendum, which will take place in January. Over the next two months, GSGA, SGA, and all 12 undergraduate and graduate divisional councils will work tirelessly to educate the entire student body on the importance of this bill and put transition plans, policies, and procedures in place, should the referendum pass.
It is crucial that we come together as a group of almost 7,000 graduate students and demand that our voices are heard to create a fair and equitable position at this world-class University by passing this referendum. If passed, this new structure of governance will ensure that graduate students will never be marginalized again at Emory. Moreover, if passed, your GSGA promises to work with all eight divisional councils to help create fair and equitable governance, funding, and programming structures that are uniquely tailored to graduate students’ needs in order to better fulfill our mission of creating the best academic, social, and co-curricular experience for Emory graduate students.
I look forward to working with graduate students across the University over the coming months and hope that you continue to demand that your voice be heard in all areas of this campus. For more information, please visit the GSGA Webpage or email GSGA@emory.edu.
On behalf of all of GSGA, it has been a pleasure to represent the graduate population at Emory thus far, and we look forward to doing it with an even stronger voice in the future.
President, Graduate Student Government Association