Daily Egyptian

GPSC members say administration is neglecting graduate students

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Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Amelia Blakely

At its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Graduate and Professional Student Council discussed ways to address what members say is a pattern of neglect toward graduate students from university administration.

GPSC President Johnathan Flowers said the university has never made a targeted effort to gather data about graduate student satisfaction or experience at SIU.

“To not even acknowledge the fact that there might be some need to address graduate students needs is to treat us as expendable and unnecessary to the ongoing operation of the institution,” Flowers said.

One proposal Clay Awsumb, the council’s vice president for graduate student affairs, presented was for GPSC to conduct a comprehensive survey concerning graduate students and their potential problems, experiences and satisfaction with their studies.

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The survey would make sure the university is fulfilling its responsibility to graduate students, Awsumb said, and it will show GPSC opportunities where it can improve its advocacy for them.

“We will actually be able to address specific problems or specific success across from what is ultimately a diverse collection of programs, colleges, and schools,” Awsumb said.

Awsumb said the survey would be held annually and if problems are identified through the information collection, the council would be able to track the data to hold parties accountable.

GPSC will employ the psychology department’s applied research consultants to maintain the survey’s standardization, Awsumb said, and the survey is anticipated to be ready for distribution by Nov. 13.

At previous meetings, the council discussed having Chancellor Carlo Montemagno come to a meeting to provide graduate students a forum in which to ask him questions, but Flowers said Tuesday the chancellor notified him he would instead be having a campus-wide open forum.

Flowers said the chancellor’s office told him it could accommodate two meetings per semester with the chancellor for dates of Flowers’ choosing. His original chosen date of Sept. 12 was denied, he said, as was the entire month of September because the chancellor’s schedule was booked.

Flowers said his second request to meet on Nov. 20 was not addressed by Montemagno’s office.

After his request to meet was denied, Flowers said he was redirected to Lori Stettler, vice chancellor of student affairs.

Flowers said this difficulty to communicate or meet with the chancellor is not conducive to transparency and is not consistent with Montemagno’s message of including students in university decision-making.

“It is clear he has come to some position regarding communication with GPSC that it is either not a necessity or he is taking steps to avoid it,” Flowers said.

Flowers said it seems the chancellor is prioritizing the undergraduate student body because his plans do not address graduate students except where research is concerned.

The satisfaction graduate student survey will be the council’s way of communicating graduate needs to the administration, Flowers said.

Although he said surveys may seem boring or irrelevant, Flowers implored all students to take them seriously.

“The institution makes decisions in two ways: one, based on data it has collected… two, when the institution is made so uncomfortable by a particular failure it has no choice but to address it,” Flowers said. “Take the damn surveys.”

Staff writer Amelia Blakely can be reached at abla[email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely. 

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