General Assembly of the Council of Graduate Students
University of Minnesota
President's Room, Coffman Memorial Union
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Minutes submitted by
Isaac Kamola (Vice President for Communications).
Minutes approved by executive committee.
Meeting began at 5:15. Quorum was met.
The following individuals were elected to COGS positions starting next
President: Sara Kempner, Child Development
Executive Vice President: Shana Watters, Computer Science
Vice President for External Relations: Aeleah Soine, History
Vice President for Internal Relations: Meghan Warren, Epidemiology
Vice President for Communications: Isaac Kamola, Political Science
Nathan Gossett, Computer Science/Engineering
Britt Johnson, Philosophy
Tatiana Abatemarco, Philosophy
Eli Meyerhoff, Philosophy
Kris Houlton, Philosophy
Laurie Stone, Plant Biology
Policy and Review Council
Languages, Literature and Arts:
Amy Tarrell, Spanish and Portuguese
Charlie Rohwer, Applied Plant Sciences
Denise Feda, Environmental Health Sciences
Engineering, Physical, and Mathematical Sciences:
Dan Drake, Math
Will Cremer, History
Education and Psychology:
--yet to be filled
Coalition for a Respectful U (Melissa F. Weiner)
The bias-related incidents that have occurred this school year targeted
both undergraduate and graduate students. It is imperative that there
are efforts to improve campus climate and that graduate students are
involved. COGS and GAPSA are members of the Coalition for a Respectful
U, a campus-wide partnership of student and administrative organizations
to promote and directly involve graduate student input in such efforts.
Graduate students have a unique dual role on campus. Not only can we
be instrumental in the improvement of campus climate through our interactions
with students and opportunities to create spaces committed to diversity
in our classrooms, we are also subject to discrimination and intolerance
ourselves. Graduate students are diverse, representing every state
in the nation as well as hundreds of countries world-wide, in addition
to a wide range of spiritual beliefs, sexual orientations, and life
experiences. We must work to ensure that the University of Minnesota
is a great place for us to live and work, free from discrimination
based on any of our diverse characteristics. We can also be proactive
in this effort by actively contributing to the improvement of campus
climate for the good of ourselves and our undergraduate students.
The Coalition for a Respectful U is a campus-wide collaborative of organizations
committed to progressive social change and ensuring that the University
of Minnesota fosters a climate of inclusion and diversity for students
and employees. The Coalition supports institutional social change that
includes education, programming, training, campus climate assessment
and improvement, support, crisis support and response, reporting, policy,
and institutional commitment. Coalition efforts focus on education and
programming that help others understand the devastating impact of bias,
discrimination, and hate. Past and upcoming programming include Stop
the Hate Training, an educational symposium featuring Judy Shepard in
conjunction with the Theatre production of “The Laramie Project” and
working with the Minnesota Daily to increase coverage and understanding
around diversity issues. For more information about the Coalition
for a Respectful U, please visit our website.
The COGS & GAPSA representative to the Coalition for 2004-05 is
Melissa Weiner. If you have any questions about the Coalition, want to
report an incident, or have any ideas or concerns (either related to
grad student or any other issues) that you want to be addressed at a
Coalition meeting, please contact Melissa either through email at email@example.com
or by phone at 612-501-7572. To report a bias-related incident on campus,
call 911 as soon as possible or report events at the Office
of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action’s website.
Communication on Campus (Britt Johnson)
break the University Administration published a list of the programs
to be closed or merged in the Star Tribune (more
This flies in the face of the resolution COGS,
and MSA passed asking for transparency and communication with graduate
students concerning program closure.
COGS is currently still following up on the resolution. This is important
because departments might begin suspending admissions as de facto closing.
This violates the process through which departments are closed or merged
through democratic consultation within the Policy and Review Councils.
This continued lack of consultation with graduate students has been frustrating.
Furthermore, these mergers are not necessarily to save money as much
as to provide a polished package to the legislature who have been complaining
the University is not focused enough in its mission. The Graduate School
has also mandated that people in departments which are being closed will
be allowed to finish their degree at the University.
Laurie Stone mentioned that College of Agricultural, Food, and
Environmental Sciences, College of Biological Sciences, and College of
Natural Resources were being looked at for restructuring, with
possible merger between CNR and COAFES.
Union Update (Kris Houlton)
On April 11th-15th there will be a University wide election to determine
whether the graduate student union—GradTRAC/UE
Local 1105—will be
legally recognized as the body which can negotiate contracts for graduate employees.
Currently we work without a legal contract which explains why every year the
Administration changes our healthcare coverage without consulting us. It is also
important to remember that this is not a vote for a specific contract but for
union representation. If the majority of those voting vote “Yes” then
all members of the union will select a negotiating committee which will hammer
out a contract with the administration. Each member of the union will then be
eligible to vote for or against the contract. However, such negotiation can only
happen once we have a union.
All graduate employees with a position this semester are eligible to
vote—this includes Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, Graduate
Assistants, and Graduate Instructors. It does not include those on fellowship.
Click here to find a list of polling
Stadium Update (Keith Cunnien)
Currently the Administration is charging ahead with plans to build a stadium using
student fees, despite the COGS resolution passed
on February 5th. The fee, however, will not be charged
through the Student
Service Fee ($100/year of which already goes to pay off the Coffman Union over-run)
but will instead be rolled into our University Fee.
Those of us without funding or whose departments do not waive the University
Fee will foot this bill. For the rest, the departments will
be saddled with this fee. This administrative tactic amounts to a backdoor
tax on our departments and could seriously impact the ability
of departments to fund TAs and RAs. There is currently a petition being
circulated what states that we oppose
this plan and we pledge to withhold any future donations
University if it implements this plan.
It is really important that you take this issue to your DGS because
they might not be aware of what is being planned.
Also, it is important to know that this is a similar move that the Administration
10% increase in base pay last semester—they are forcing departments
pay for it without providing extra funds to those departments.
The University Fee increase could range from $35-$75/semester. Furthermore,
like with Coffman, there is a good chance that we would be forced to
pay for over-run expenses which could push this amount even higher. They
have not announced what the exact fee increase is going to be yet—this
will depend on what kind of state and private funding they can manage
Education Affordability and Equity Act (Andy Warta)
Abordability and Equity Act is out of committee
and on the House floor.
Betty McCollum has already
endorsed it. We are going to do follow up emails for other Minnesota
Representative urging them to support the
McCollum will be on the St. Paul campus Thursday, March 31st at noon
to discuss the Higher Education Act.
Resolution (Britt Johnson)
Please send comments and suggested amendments to firstname.lastname@example.org—this resolution will be discussed and voted on at the April GA meeting.