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UISG-grad student spat continues

BY MICHELE DANNO | FEBRUARY 18, 2009 7:50 AM

UI Student Government officials made it clear Tuesday they will not recognize recent action by the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students.

On Feb. 11, the Executive Council unanimously passed a bill to withdraw from the Partnership of Student Governments at Iowa — the constitution that binds them to UISG.

But UISG President Maison Bleam said undergraduate officials will continue to follow the rules from the constitution.

“This action will not be recognized by UISG,” he said. “We welcome and will continue to represent all graduate-student representatives. We will budget consistently with how we have in the past, giving equal opportunity to all students, whether graduate or undergraduate.”

Executive Council President Steve Wieland insists his group’s withdrawal from the constitution will happen, despite what UISG officials say.

“This illustrates the problem that they think they are our masters and that we have to get permission to do things,” he said. “So when they say we need their permission to do things, that just illustrates why we do not want to be in a partnership anymore.”

Because the Executive Council refrained from submitting its budget for the next fiscal year to the Student Assembly Budget and Allocations Committee, Bleam resubmitted last year’s budget for it. This action will ensure that it has funding next year, UISG officials said.

The budget committee, which allocates student-activity fees, consists of three graduate students and six undergraduate students. The committee took this form in 2007, when the constitution was amended to put the partnership in place, UISG officials said. By withdrawing from the constitution, the Executive Council is also withdrawing from the budget committee.

UISG Sen. Matt Niblock said this action is a “slap in the face” to UISG and the constitution the groups agreed on in 2007.

“They keep throwing around the word ‘under-represented,’ ” he said, noting graduate students pay for 24 percent of the student-activity fees, while the other 76 percent is funded by undergraduates. “With three representatives on the committee, they are getting 33 percent representation, which actually makes them over-represented.”

UISG Sen. Rob Pick said the Executive Council agreed upon the partnership and the amendment to the constitution two years ago.

“The biggest issue we have is that we believe that [the Executive Council] entered into a bad-faith agreement, knowing that it wanted to violate it,” Pick said. “Its own vice president, who voted on the [contract] two years ago, is now trying to get it back.”

But Wieland said the Executive Council’s actions are fair.

“What they are saying is that, as the undergraduates, they think that they can be the student government for the entire university, and that’s silly,” he said, noting that the undergraduate leaders don’t represent one-third of the students at the UI.


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