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Response to "Grad students favor fee raise," DI, Sept. 18, 2012

BY DI READERS | SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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In response to your Sept. 19 article in [The Daily Iowan] press, “Grad students favor fee raise” and online, “UI grad students lobby to add student fee for advising services,” we have some corrections and clarifications to make.  

First, graduate students are not “lobbying” for a fee increase. The proposal was introduced by the Graduate College, not by any student organization, including the Graduate Student Senate, the member government representing all graduate students at the University of Iowa.

On Aug. 23, the Graduate Council, which is composed of both faculty and students, discussed and voted to approve an increase to the Professional Enhancement Fee in response to the need for career-development resources for UI graduate students. The proposal was due on Aug. 24.

Graduate College Dean John Keller presented the proposal at the Graduate Student Senate Executive Council meeting Aug. 28 and at the Graduate Student Senate General Assembly meeting Sept. 10. Due to the deadline for the proposal’s submission, the Senate was unable to formalize a resolution representing graduate students’ views on this issue.

We want to be clear that no one from the Senate or Executive Council spoke directly with the DI. The quote attributed to Senate President Kimberly Hoppe, “It’s a no-opposition kind of thing,” was not a direct quote given to the author of the story.

The discussion at the Sept. 18, Executive Council meeting was meant to update member governments on the process of mandatory-fee approval and the ability of the council to speak directly with the Board of Regents regarding such fees.  

Hoppe was summarizing feedback received from graduate students and participants in the council discussion voiced concerns over whether the fee increase would provide effective services across the diverse and unique disciplines in the Graduate College; these concerns were not included in the DI article.  

It is our view that quotes taken from Executive Council meetings should always acknowledge that officers were speaking in the context of a meeting and should seek to provide an understanding of that context. The DI’s article effectively decontextualizes and misrepresents what was discussed at the meeting in question.  

Since your article was printed, the Senate has received concerned emails from UI graduate students, mostly regarding the “no-opposition” statement. Other graduate students have expressed that this fee is a great opportunity for a career-service position dedicated to graduate students.  

Graduate students have not had the opportunity to voice their opinions on this matter to the Graduate Student Senate, and as such, we would never speak on behalf of graduate students without their input.

The Senate’s mission is “giving graduate students a voice.” As the president and vice president of the Senate, we certainly honor that mission and welcome feedback in response to the proposed fee increase.  More information about the Senate is available at our website (http://gss.grad.uiowa.edu/). Or via email at grad-senate@uiowa.edu.

Kimberly Hoppe
President, Graduate Student Senate


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