GPSC seeks to increase student participation in university governance

Members+of+GPSC+meet+for+the+first+time+this+fall+on+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+5%2C+2017%2C+at+the+Student+Center.+%28Daily+Egyptian+file+photo%29%0A
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GPSC seeks to increase student participation in university governance

Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Members of GPSC meet for the first time this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at the Student Center. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

By Francois Gatimu

During their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, members of the Graduate and Professional Student Council discussed increasing council participation in university committees in the hopes of increasing effectiveness in student representation.

GPSC President Johnathan Flowers he called on volunteers to fill vacant committee positions available for council members.

“If there are no graduate students in those committees, the administration will make decisions without us and say you blew your shot,” Flowers said.

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He said by increasing GPSC’s presence in university committees, members can more directly represent their constituents to the administration.

“At this point, student representation is really important, particularly because we have a new chancellor,” Flowers said.

Without committee representation, Flowers said students are “robbed of the ability to provide meaningful feedback to administration.”

Flowers said there are five Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation subcommittees in need of GPSC representatives. These subcommittees are responsible for the development and implementation of assessments used to determine whether the university is meeting HLC criteria, he said.

The last HLC self-study report for the university was completed in 2010, and Flowers said student concerns were not taken into account because there had been “little student involvement in the collection of its data.”

Flowers, referring to the 2010 report as a “sanitized document,” said that it was largely geared toward bolstering the SIU’s image. He said student participation in the respective subcommittees could help to prevent this from happening again. 

Not all members in attendance shared Flowers’ views on the effectiveness of committee participation in student representation.

“The committees that I have served on haven’t been pivotal in any decision making,” said Steven Smith, a graduate student studying electrical and computer engineering. “At the end of the day, they make recommendations, but administration then makes the decisions.”

Stevens said serving on a committee doesn’t necessarily lead to administrators looking out for student interests anymore than if a student doesn’t serve on one.

“I don’t think that the university will fall apart if students aren’t represented on these committees,” Stevens said. “I think that administrators are considering student interests and not just their own.”

GPSC, together with the Undergraduate Student Government, plans to host Chancellor Carlo Montemagno in a town hall meeting in the coming weeks. The meeting is meant to provide students with an open forum to speak to the chancellor, Flowers said.

Some council members already have questions lined up for his visit.

“I will probably ask him questions on how he plans to recruit and maintain a diverse student body,” said Lauran Schaefer, a graduate student studying communications. “I want to know how he intends to deal with the increased sexual assaults at SIU, and how he intends to protect the graduate student budget.”

The town hall meeting is another initiative that Flowers said he hopes will strengthen student voices and participation in shared governance.

Staff writer Francois Gatimu can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @frankDE28.

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