It is with utmost joy and a sense of fulfillment that we share a final report of our work in GPSC this term; 2016-2017 Academic Year. Although it was quite a challenging year for GPSC, we were able to achieve some notablemilestones and we are excited to share a number of them with you.
Our theme for this term was Accountable Leadership and Advocacy. Our promise was to be accountable to the graduate and professional at the University of Arizona as we actively advocate on their behalf and make them our central focus. In September 2016, we set our goals for the academic year. Some of these goals were to sustain and expand GPSC's services and programs, address food security, increase sexual assault awareness and improve outreach.
Highlights of our ADVOCACY and ACCOUNTABILITY:
- This term, we secured a 4-year Fees guarantee/freeze for graduate and professional students to address lack of predictability in fee increases. Furthermore, we successfully reduced the fee increases for next academic year and also secured an opt-out option for graduate students for the recently approved Athletic Fee.
- We raised ~$40,000 in one-time funding for the GPSC Travel Grants Program for FY17 to offset budget cuts. We also reached a 5-year agreement with University administration that would give the GPSC Travel Grants Program $300,000 yearly to begin FY18 (July 1st 2017). The $300,000 yearly funds will be reviewed at the end of FY22 and allow the leaders at that time to negotiate for possible changes.
- Each year, the out-going term secures and allocates the budget for next fiscal year(FY). This year, we increased the total budget for FY18 by more than $150,000 from the current year, bringing the total GPSC budget for FY18 to ~$1million. The complete budget is available online on our website (http://gpsc.arizona.edu/mission-and-governing-documents).
- We blocked a proposed increase in on-campus graduate housing rent for next academic year.
- We improved our outreach and reached out to over 1,300 new graduate and professional students during college and program specific Fall and Spring Orientations. We further extended outreach to College of Medicine-Phoenix and created a new seat in the General Council for them.
- GPSC took a strong stance on a number of issues in the University, State and National Level. Some of them include leading an Arizona Tri-University student government effort to issue a public statement to members of AZ Legislature and all elected officers, expressing support for DACA students, a joint statement on the Immigration Executive Order, and advocated against course fees, tuition and fees increases and more.
- We had a record number of student exhibitors during the GPSC student showcase and held our other annual major events which included Grad Slam, GPSC Graduate Orientation, International Student Wildcat pickup, Graduate and Professional Students Appreciation Week and several social events.
- We began a partnership with UA Campus Pantry in support of addressing food insecurity among graduate students. We have also allocated funds for FY18 which is intended to help host graduate and professional student exclusive hours at the Pantry.
- We started new collaborations with colleges. Most notable is the partnership with College of Engineering which allows us to serve more engineering students by disbursing the college’s travel grant funds to its students who applied but did not receive GPSC Travel Grants funds.
- We began publishing regular updates of our actions and decisions to graduate students in the Daily Wildcat, our Facebook page and also on our newly created “Press Release Page” to improve transparency and accountability.
- We developed and strengthened relationships with a number of strategic partners: ABOR, Faculty Senate and ASUA. Most importantly, we started building a healthier relationship with our friends at ASUA. We saw the need and opportunity for collaboration between both student governments to better serve students. We worked together on several major issues and issued joint-statements on a number of issues that affected students. GPSC and ASUA are now on a path to more collaborative relationship.
- We worked with the ASUA Supreme Court to create a GPSC Supreme Court that addresses issues of interpretation of our governing documents and conflict of interest in dealing with election disputes and improves transparency.
- We updated GPSC’s strategic plan for the first time in four years, redefining our goals and priorities.
- We created a 5-year GPSC Term Limit to improve leadership turnover within the organization and give other graduate and professionals students with new voices, vision and passion the opportunity to serve in GPSC. The Term Limits is intended to bring fresh outlook to the organization and help elected GPSC leaders stay conversant with the needs of graduate students and remain focused on the purpose and mission of GPSC.
Read the full press release here.