Minutes by Sean McNee, Vice President for Communications
Quorum was met.
5:00pm Food served
5:15pm Late handouts arrive
5:20pm Meeting called to order: President, Chris Pappas
Thank you to everyone for coming to the March General Assembly Meeting. Before we begin, I would like to thank the COGS Executive Committee for all of the hard work they have done this year. I would also like to encourage everyone here to think about how they want to participate in COGS next year. COGS will be holding general elections for all executive positions in the April General Assembly. This includes the COGS Executive Officers, the P&R Chairs, and our Student Senators. Please consider expanding your involvement in this organization so we can help as many graduate students as we can. We are having our elections in April so we have new officers and senators in place before the final committee and Senate meetings of the school year. This is especially important in the Senate where at the May meeting they elect a chair for the Student Senate and other important positions for the following year.
COGS Note: See below for more details about the upcoming elections, including information about all of the open positions.
I would also like to remind everybody that our parent organization, GAPSA, will also be holding elections for their executive council soon. If you are interested in being a part of GAPSA, I would encourage you to run for a position there as well.
Speaking of GAPSA, I am sure all of you are aware of the Fees Committee and their recommendation to cut GAPSA’s funding. As a part of the Committee’s GAPSA funding recommendation, they cut the pass-through to all of the college councils, including us. We have been working very hard this year to increase graduate student involvement in COGS—to increase democracy, for lack of a better word. These funding cuts hurt us badly. As such, we have been lobbying aggressively with the Fees Committee to fully fund GAPSA. We won’t know for a few weeks what the recommendations are going to be to the Regents. But as soon as we know more, we will let you all know.
5:30pm Student Fees: VP for Communications, Sean McNee
We have been hearing lately that many graduate students do not understand the fees that they are paying. We have created a fees handout that you can take back to your department to help explain the fees that we pay.
COGS Note: More information about fees can also be found in the Current Issues section of the website.
Here are some extra notes, in addition to the handout:
The two areas of concern are at the University Level, with the University Fee, and at the College Level, with the Technology Fees.
The University Fee
The University Fee is charged per credit enrolled and it first appeared for the 2001-2002 school year. It was more reasonable then, at approximately $75 a semester, depending on credit load. The fee was put in place to provide funding to the central administration to cover the costs of running the University.
We in COGS do not have more detailed information about where the revenues from University Fee go, but we are working with various departments on Campus, including the Office of the President, to get that information.
The Deans of the Graduate School view the University Fee as a part of tuition and have strongly suggested that all departments pay this fee for all Graduate Assistants. Federal Law prohibits federal grant money from paying student fees, so Graduate Assistants directly paid by grants cannot have the University Fee covered. In this case, the Graduate School would still strongly encourage all departments to figure out other ways to cover the University Fee for those students.
At the GA, we took quick pool of graduate assistants to discover that there are several departments that do no pay this fee for their assistants. We in COGS encourage all representatives to talk to their department’s DGS about the University Fee and how their department handles it. For those of you in departments where it is not paid, please contact COGS so we can work with you and your department to see what we can do to change the situation.
College Level Technology Fees
Each college gets to determine the Technology Fee that students pay to the college. We in COGS do not know how all of the different colleges determine this fee, nor do we know how it is used.
Some colleges are more open about this process than others. As an example, COGS does know how the Institute of Technology applies its Technology Fee of $165 a semester.
IT has a committee called the IT Instructional Computing Committee, which is comprised of both faculty and student representatives from all departments in IT. Among other activities, this committee sets the Technology Fee and determines how the fee is used through out all of IT.
COGS Note: Reading though the minutes of the ITICC committees is rather boring, but it does reveal that the process of determining where the money goes is very open and that the committee works hard to make sure that but the public ITLABS computing labs have funding that all of the departments in IT receiving funding for their computing resources.
We in COGS do not yet know how other colleges spend their Technology Fees. We hope there is a similar process occurring across campus as there is in IT where both faculty and students have input in determining how the funds are spent. We again ask that students from other colleges talk to the DGS in their departments to try and learn how the technology fees are being used across campus.
COGS Note: COGS has a seat on the CLA Budget Advisory Committee, but it remained unfilled all year. It is quite possible that the CLA Technology Fee was discussed at these committee meetings.
Questions from the GA
Q. The computing labs in Coffman are marked as saying “Paid for by CLA Technology Fees”. These labs are open for all students across campus to use. Is CLA subsidizing these labs for all of campus?
A. We don’t know for sure, but it does appear that way. All of the colleges across campus have public computing labs funded by the college that are open to all students.
Q. How long have the Deans recommended that the University Fee be covered for graduate assistants?
A. As best as we know in COGS, the Deans have been recommending that departments cover the fee since the fee first appeared in the 2001-2002 school year.
5:40pm Recruitment and Elections
Committee Recruitment: Executive VP, Britt Johnson
COGS is viewed as being the official representative voice for all graduate students on campus. This is exactly the position we want to be in. Because of this, many different organizations across campus come to COGS for graduate student input. They ask us to be on committees so that the graduate student voice can be heard. When COGS does not fill these committee positions, it makes me very sad.
We have been asked by CLA to have representatives on all of their committees, including their general committee, their budget advisory committee and their policy and review committee. These positions have been vacant all year. It is hard to complain about problems in CLA when we know that we have positions on their committees and we have not been there, participating.
I ask you all to please find people to fill the committee positions for next year. As COGS representatives, you are already making a difference. We thank you for it. It’s a big job; it’s an important job. But I bet that you know someone else in your department who might be great in a committee position. Please go to your department and find someone who you think would be great on a committee.
As will be mentioned later, there are changes occurring with Parking and Transportation Services on this campus. These changes took us by surprise. Well, they have an advisory committee, and we have a seat on it. But it has been unfilled all year. Again, this makes me sad.
All of these committees meet during the academic year. Some meet twice a year. Some meet more frequently. Time commitments will vary, but we can help you can find the right committee fit for specific people. If you have questions, please contact Britt. There is a full list of committees that COGS has representation listed on the website. Please check out the list, and think about people that you would want to fill these positions next year.
Comments from the GA
For extra added incentive, being active in student government not only looks good on a resume, but also gets you noticed around campus. You get to talk to faculty members and deans. You have a vote on the committees you sit on, and people will know that you are from COGS, they will listen to you and you will have sway and make an impact.
COGS Note: COGS always fully supports their committee members and the decisions they make in their committees on behalf of COGS and all graduate students. We value having this representation and hope that it makes the campus a better place for all graduate students.
Elections for Executive Committee: President, Chris Pappas and Executive VP, Britt Johnson
As mentioned before, we will be having elections at the April General Assembly. All graduate students in good standing with the Graduate School are eligible to run. We strongly encourage anyone with an interest in student government to consider running for one of the positions will have open.
COGS Note: In order to run for a position, you will be required to attend the April GA. During the meeting, we will open the floor for nominations for each position. You can nominate yourself for a position. After being nominated, you should be prepared to say a few words (about a minute or so) about why you want the position and what qualifications you have. For all contested positions, voting will be done by written ballot.
Here is a brief description of all the positions we will be electing:
5:50pm Committee Reports
Stadium Advisory Committee: Keith Cunnien
There was a handout given to all at the GA. This handout contains all of the information that the administration has been trying to get out to students for a while. For those that have been following the stadium issue, there is nothing new in the information.
COGS Note: We currently do not have an electronic version of the handout, when we do, we’ll add a download link to it right here.
Here are a few key points from the meeting:
Questions from the GA
Q. There was talk of a potential fee being $100/year. What has happened to this?
A. People at the meeting have totally backed off from all discussion of a potential amount for a fee. There has be no discussion about amounts.
COGS note: The $50/semester number that has been circulating around first appeared in articles from the MN Daily (Jan. 30 and Feb. 11) to gauge student opinion about such fees for a stadium. As far as we know, the number was suggested by the Daily and not from any University administrator. In the last GAPSA meeting however, the GAPSA representative to all of the stadium committees had said before that the administration was thinking in a range from $15 to $75 a semester. It is unclear if they are still thinking this way or not.
Q. I don’t want to cause a rift between graduate students and undergraduates, but what having an undergraduate only fee? Graduate students are not even eligible to be a member of the football team.
A. This is a good question, and an interesting justification. I would encourage you to email me with a fill formulation of this argument so I can present it at the next committee meeting.
Q. There are many other programs that are funded from Student Fees. What is the difference between these programs and the stadium? Why is the stadium so different and special?
A. This is a good question. All I can say is that the answers given at the stadium meetings about questions like this are not good enough for graduate students. There is a lot of rhetoric being used at these meetings, and the undergraduates seem to be buying it. I let it slide at this first meeting, but I am watching for this at future meetings.
Q. What about charging more for football tickets to pay for the stadium?
A. According to people at the meeting, current attendance numbers are not large enough to fill the stadium they want to build. They want to keep ticket prices reasonable so people will come. Any increase in cost could keep attendance down.
Q. So, what is the timeline here? When do they have to worry about financing?
A. 2006 projected groundbreaking. 2008 start, perhaps? Nothing is to be decided by the end of this school year. As for the financing of the stadium, they have been looking into advertising to help pay for part of the cost. But they also want the stadium to maintain college look and feel. Of course, Carlson School of Management has classrooms named after corporations, so I don’t know what this means. We will be going over more specifics from the feasibility study at the next meeting.
Q. Did the resolution that COGS passed about using student fees to pay for a stadium have any effect?
A. The fact that I am on the committee is speaking volumes. We are involved in this process and they are aware of the position that COGS has on student fee funding for the stadium. I have not brought up the resolution yet at one of these meetings, but I may mention it at the next one.
Q. Why did the University tear down Memorial Stadium in the first place?
A. The University was told that the old stadium was, well, old, out of date, and had serious safety issues. It is possible that the U was misinformed about the quality of the stadium, however. We’re not sure. Here is something else to think about: the Metrodome was built as cheaply as humanly possible and it has barely lasted 20 years. Now, the committee is looking to build this new stadium also as cheaply as humanly possible and they want it to last 80 to 100 years. What is going on?
COGS Note: For a short period of time, there was a discussion about an ‘opt-in’ fee, where students who paid the fee would receive benefits such as discounted tickets or reserved seats. This idea has a lot of merit and we would hope that it would re-appear in any discussion about the students fees and the stadium.
Any questions and comments about the stadium can be sent to Keith.
GAPSA Meeting: Chris Pappas
At the last GAPSA meeting, we gave everyone a copy of the resolution we passed on the Stadium and student fees. Beyond that, it was a very busy meeting. There was lots of discussion about the fees committee and GAPSA’s fees request. Most of this is no longer relevant as the public hearings with the Fees Committee has now passed.
Between GAPSA meetings, there was move of no confidence in President Todd Powell’s leadership of GAPSA. The move failed and Todd is still President. We have sent a letter to the GAPSA executive committee about this process, and we are recommending a change to GAPSA’s constitution, as currently only the GAPSA executive officers vote on move of no confidence. Instead, we think the entire GAPSA committee should vote on these issues. We submitted an amendment to their constitution along with our letter. Hopefully, we’ll see it appear at the next GAPSA meeting.
Also at the meeting was a talk by Jerry Reinhart, and it was essentially identical to the one he gave in COGS at our last GA. Finally, there was information presented about the stadium, but the information presented at this GA supersedes that information.
Questions from the GA
Q: Fees Committee recommendations: when does more information come out?
A: Later. We’re not sure exactly when, but it does eventually go before the Regents. We are looking for ways to change how we get fees. Funding for student government should be separated from funding for student groups. While the process only made news this year, it is indicative of problems in the process that has existed for a while.
COGS Note: Final recommendations from the Fees Committee will be made at the full committee’s next meeting at 4:30pm on Friday March 12th, in the Presidents Room in Coffman. From here, the recommendations are forwarded to the Vice President for Student Development. While COGS is not positive on this, we believe that the VP has broad discretionary power to make changes to the recommendations made by the Fees Committee. Finally, the recommendations are sent to the President and the Board of Regents for action. The Regents have final say about student fees and can choose to completely ignore the advice of Fees Committee for any reason. The Regents should see the fees recommendation either at their May or June meeting.
SHAC: Andrew Rivard
COGS Note: Thanks to Andrew Rivard and Carrie Rigdon for providing written notes for the SHAC update.
Two big issues have recently been before the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). SHAC advises Boynton Health Service on health care services and health promotion for the campus community.
(1) Boynton Year-Round Fees
Issue: Potential raising of the Boynton portion of student fees to provide summer coverage for all students. Mostly it would affect undergraduate students and graduate students who aren't covered under the GA insurance plan.
Background: The student health insurance and the Boynton portion of student fees work together to provide coverage -- the fees portion for students' routine visits and the insurance for more extensive or emergency health care. Currently, only students who attend summer classes and pay the summer student services fee are covered for the routine visits to Boynton during the summer. There appear to be several students who remain in the Twin Cities over the summer without attending classes. Boynton providers have noticed problems with continuity of care for their primary and mental health care patients. Also, many students are surprised when they show up to Boynton over the summer and have to pay. Year-round fees would address these continuity of care issues.
Status: SHAC members have formed a subcommittee to gather data and tackle issues of costs, benefits, coverage, and fairness. They will make a recommendation to SHAC in Fall 2004 and, if approved, would be part of Boynton's budget proposal to the Student Services Fees committee in December 2004.
(2) AHC/UMP/Fairview Health Campus
Issue: Bringing together all University health care providers and patient-related services from the Academic Health Center, U of M Physicians, and Fairview University Hospitals under one building. There is also a desire to bring Boynton under this as well.
Background: SHAC was just made aware of this in the past month and we are still trying to set up a formal meeting with the planners to understand the full scope and purpose of this project. We need to know how this will affect the care Boynton provides to students and its other patients, what it would cost, and whether it would be a good move. For example, we don't know to what extent Boynton providers and administration would be integrated into this larger system and how that would affect care and costs. SHAC members and Boynton staff are pressing for student representation in the decision-making process.
Status: No official time-line has been established. Some decisions about planning and how to proceed will be made as early as June.
Q. What are the gains from such a move?
A. We are still asking them these questions. The director of Boynton is concerned that if there is a move then costs to students will go up.
Q. Why is it happening?
A. Vice president/provost and U of M Physicians want to broaden their services and try to get all of the medical facilities located together.
Q. But the facilities are not bad, right?
A. The facilities are fine. They are just in different places. Some services are in Moos Tower and the Phillips Wangensteen building, while other services are located in Boynton.
Q. Boynton was just renovated recently, right?
A. Yes, it was.
Q. Is this to make things more convenient? For whom?
A. It is primarily intended to make things easier for the doctors, medical students and patients who come to the U from all over the world.
Q. Are there any details on possible locations and a timeline?
A. One thought is Centennial hall. They would take out the dorms and build a new building at that location. Another possibility is just past the Oak Street ramp.
Q: Moos tower is rather large. What would be there?
A. All of the medical research facilities. One of the problems is that medical research and medical clinics are interspersed among these different buildings. This is a plan to bring all of the clinics together.
Q. How does this benefit medical students?
A. There is a possibility that Boynton would become a teaching clinic for our medical students.
Q. So, if the problem is that research and clinics are mixed up together, then why not consolidate all of the clinics inside of Moos Tower and consolidate all of the research in Boynton?
A. That is a good proposal. We will bring it up at the next SHAC meeting.
The Student Senate received a presentation from Michael Dean about the Lobby Day effort. About 300 people attended in total, which is a large number for a capital request year. The capital request is money the U asks for from the state to help buildings, this one is especially for improving old buildings. The plans are to continue momentum and grow for next year. There are things that students can do now, including: calling night and Thursdays at the Capital. See www.supporttheu.umn.edu for more details.
The Student Senate also received a report about late night programming. This is programming to occur in the student unions on Friday and Saturday nights until 2am. It is designed to improve student life at the U. Examples of these social events include: films, games, crafts, and dances. Duluth has programming until 10pm on school nights. Late night programming is being pushed by undergraduates and it has funding for next year. There are going to three pilot runs this semester. If you have ideas for what events to be a part of this programming, please let them know. There is also going to be an advisory committee too, and it needs members.
COGS note: The first late night programming pilot event is going to be on March 27th in Coffman.
The University Senate, among other topics, spent a large amount of time discussion the potential Senate Reorganization. There are three current proposals. The first is to keep the Senate the way it current is. The other two proposal involve adding representation from other groups on campus including CAPA and CSC. and (non-union) civil service members of the University Committee. The goal is to have broader, more equal representation from the University as a community and reduce some redundancy in the current Senate organization. One extremely important factor is the make up of the new Senate, especially the number of seats that each group would receive. Most actions (votes) before the Senate require a simple majority to pass. Both in the current Senate and in at least some of the proposals going forward, the Faculty percentage of Senators alone would be enough to pass any simply majority action placed before the Senate.
COGS Note: This is a very important issue and it will have lasting effects on the relationship between faculty, students, and staff at the U. It is very good to see representation spread across all aspects of the University community, but we need to be careful that we are not losing student representation in the Senate to other parties. Students have been a very important voice in the University Senate the past few years for the simple fact that many of the Faculty Senators do not show up for Senate meetings. Thus, the faculty needed the students around both to have quorum and pass any action items. It is unclear how the Senate would change under the new proposals.
COGS Request: If any of the Senators have detailed notes about the proposed changes to the Senate structure, it would be great to post them hear for the rest of the GA to look over. Please email the notes to email@example.com.
Q. Why are only the non-union civil service members represented in the new proposals? What is different about the unions?
A. It is a long and complicated answer, but the short version is that it is ‘legally problematic’ because by having Senate seats, the union members could have possible double representation, once through the union, and once through the Senate. It seems odd, however, and we are still looking into getting unionized U employees into the Senate.
Q. What are some details about the change in numbers?
A. Currently there are 255 voting members of the University Senate (190 faculty, 48 students, and 17 from the Senate Consultative Committees). The changes vary in numbers, but one example has 225 total Senators with 125 faculty and the rest comprised of students, U professionals, and the SSC Committee members. It is clear that students are losing numbers.
COGS Note: Again, if a Senator has more details on the breakdown of the numbers in the proposals, it would be helpful to post that information here.
Later in the Senate meetings, graduate students from Duluth mentioned they wanted better representation.
COGS note: COGS is actively working with the University officials in Duluth to get representation from those students It seems there are multiple fractions of people all working towards the same goal, perhaps not even aware that the groups are also working to the same goal. COGS is working very hard on this issue.
Next, the Senate talked about the of royalty funds from research patents and other intellectual property to fund future research at the U and the commercialization of these research efforts. The University, under the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act, is required to commercialize its intellectual property and is going a very good job of it. The U would like to use these royalty funds to create biotech laboratories to help the University and businesses come together to commercialize some of the new biotech intellectual property the U is generating through its research (for example, new stem cell research). Every other state that has a Big 10 school has provided funding to these kinds of laboratories, but Minnesota has not. The University is attempting to push through this new kind of ‘technology park’ but it is difficult to get people at the Capital interested. For more information, see http://www1.umn.edu/usenate/scc/royalties.html
COGS Note: The University usually is involved with about 10 startups every year. Some have generated up to tens of millions of dollars for the University. The U is hoping that this ‘technology park’ could increase the number of startups from around 10 to over 30 each year, and is attempting to get a wide variety of departments, including CSOM, more heavily involved in this process.
Finally, there is an update on the Mount Graham debate in the Senate. Because the issue concerns the American Indian Affairs Committee and the Department of Physics and Astronomy (among others), even though the resolution was brought forth by the Senate Social Concerns Committee, the issue cannot be discussed by the University Senate unless the concerned parties have competing resolutions on the matter. Technically, the resolution is not valid to be discussed before the University Senate and instead concerned parties should take up the issue directly with the President and the Board of Regents.
COGS Note: There is a lot of history with this issue. Here is the very short summary: A large number of organizations, including the University of Minnesota and the University of Arizona, have been working together to build an international large binocular telescope and observatory, to be known as the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) on the top of Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona. Mount Graham is considered to be a holy place and sacred mountain to the San Carlos Apache and the White Mountain Apache. In 2001, the University Senate Social Concerns Committee studied this issue carefully and recommended that University not participate in the MGIO project. In the fall of 2002, the Board of Regents voted to join MGIO. Continued concerns about this issue has forced the Senate Social Concerns committee to bring the issue before the Senate again, and so they submitted a resolution about MGIO at the October 30 Senate Meeting. Since this issue has already been settled by the Board of Regents, it was unclear if it could be discussed in the University Senate. The above information is the ruling of the University Senate Parlimentarian.
6:35pm Parking and Transportation Services: VP for Communications, Sean McNee
There was a handout about this issue at the GA.
In summary, at the latest Parking and Transportation Advisory meeting, PTS announced that they are running a budget deficit as part of the greater University budget problems. Because of this, they are looking for ways to increase revenue. The two options we have are to either increase fees or reduce services, the latest versions of these options are on the handout.
Questions from the GA
Q. The U-Card fee will be raised because of this?
A. Oh, no. That is a typo, it is the UPass fee that will be raised.
COGS Note: That typo is fixed in the downloadable version of the handout.
Q. What are some more details about reduced services?
A. They were not exactly clear on this, but examples include: no free parking after 8pm at any ramps, reduced parking lot hours, less frequent Campus Connector and/or Circulator service either during the day or late at night or weekends.
One resolution was submitted to COGS by Isaac Kamola, Policital Science.
Comments from the GA.
Con: I agree with your comments, but the resolution as worded does not address what you just said. I would vote for your comments, but not the actual resolution. The ‘Therefore’ statements should touch on your comments more. They are excellent points, could be worded better.
Pro: Earlier this fall, we were trying to tie some of these issues directly to the stadium resolution. This is the part that we ended up removing from the previous resolution. The ‘Therefore’ clause is good the way it is because the University has forgotten its land grant mission.
Pro: I love fact that we are reminding the University that it is about education. We need funding for students. In times like this, we need to put new buildings and vanity projects on hold and focus on education.
Due to lack of time, the resolution was tabled and it will appear again at the next GA meeting. Anyone with comments about the resolution can email Isaac.
COGS Note: If desired, friendly changes to the resolution are allowed between GA meetings. The new version of the resolution would have to be submitted by the resolution author no later than 48 hours before the next GA. If no updated version is received, the resolution as written will appear again at the next GA in April.
6:45pm Meeting adjourned
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