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GPSC discusses cuts to the graduate school, USG grievance preliminary report, student trustee election

By Daily Egyptian News Desk

The Graduate and Professional Student Council on Thursday discussed academic cuts to the graduate school, an Undergraduate Student Government grievance preliminary report and the student trustee election.

The council members covered allegations against their sister government and how graduate students can withstand the current university budget cuts amidst the Illinois state budget crisis.

Academic cuts

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Johnathan Flowers, GPSC vice president for student affairs, said vice chancellor for research Jim Garvey mentioned in the graduate executive meeting that the administration is proposing a 14 percent budget cut to research.

“To make this cut, it’s just not possible,” Garvey said. “If I have to make the cuts I’ve been instructed to, I have to shut down all my research-active centers.”

The budget reduction results in faculty cuts in research centers including the Center for Wildlife and Fisheries, the Coal Research Center and the Material Science Research Center.

Flowers also said Garvey intends to cut back hours for the SIU Integrated Microscopy and Graphics Expertise Center.

Yueh-Ting Lee, dean of the graduate school, said the assistant dean of the graduate school, Ratna Sinha, is retiring on May 31, “leaving the graduate school a disaster.”

Lee said without Sinha, the graduate school will be unable to process graduation clearances and graduate assistantships. He said there is no one else who knows the systems necessary to carry out these tasks for the graduate school.

“Our graduate school is going to collapse,” Lee said. “Our enrollment is going to continue to go down.”

Flowers said if the school was not in a budget crisis, the graduate school would have been able to train someone to replace Sinha and avoid interruption in services.

The College of Business is proposing to merge its finance, management and marketing departments into one unit, he said.

He also said the curriculum and instruction department administrators are planning to eliminate the teacher education program in social science and make modifications to the history education program.

Additionally, kinestheology is proposing to merge with public health regulations into one human sciences school.

USG grievance report

Leaders from registered student organizations submitted a petition of 522 student signatures at GPSC’s Oct. 19 meeting, asking the council to investigate allegations of misconduct on part of the USG’s executive board.

The council had, at an earlier meeting, voted to form an investigatory committee pending a petition after hearing some of the accusations, which ranged from procedural errors to outright violations of the governing body’s constitution.

GPSC member Clay Awsumb, chair of the investigatory committee, said the USG executive board was found in violation of unconstitutionally changing the funding guidelines and constitution. They also found unconstitutional negations of funding in spring 2016.

The USG executive board was also found guilty of obstruction of transparency, insufficient record keeping, inconsistent or incorrect procedures followed and inadequate training requirements for governing officials.

The committee recommended replacing USG faculty advisors, instituting audio or video recorded minutes of all business, providing public records of all legislation and adequately training all officers on procedures.

Student trustee election

GPSC officials have refused to sign off on the updated student trustee election guidelines until they “put the power of appeals for said elections in the hands of students, not administrators,” GPSC president Brandon Woudenberg said.

To combat university administration interference in student trustee elections, GPSC proposed the faculty senate and graduate council provide three names that the student government presidents could pick from to oversee the election board.

The council suggested this because the election board last year voted unanimously to disqualify candidates four times because they were not following the election guidelines, but administration overturned the decision every time.

“Such a power grab is exactly the behavior we hope students would not model in the real world,” the executive board wrote in a public letter about the issue.

GPSC and USG has signed off on a governing document in the past years to carry out student trustee elections. However, because the addition was not included in the guidelines, GPSC officials refused to sign off on the guidelines as a whole until this issue was addressed.

Woudenberg said if the student trustee elections are carried out without GPSC’s signature, it will be in violation of state and Board of Trustee policy, which states a campus-wide election must take place in order for a student trustee to be elected.

“If we don’t change these guidelines, we will continue to go down this road where our student trustee is the laughing stock of higher education,” Woudenberg said.

The Daily Egyptian’s news desk can be reached at editor@dailyegyptian.com or 618-536-3397.

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