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Graduate representatives discuss new initiatives

BY ALEXA SANDON | AUGUST 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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Under new leadership this year, the University of Iowa Graduate and Professional Student Government is hoping to focus on continuity between departments, increasing student safety, and emphasizing international student connections.

“Helping students succeed in their fields and complete their programs is our main goal,” GPSG President Alyssa Billmeyer said.

GPSG is led by Billmeyer and Vice President Jon Scholte and consists of representatives from all of the UI graduate colleges.

This year, Ben Gillig, who serves as the GPSG governmental relations chair, said GPSG will place an emphasis on encouraging connections within each students respective field.

“[GPSG] is trying to have more participation from all the different colleges,” Gillig said.

In an effort to increase engagement, GPSG launched a new public relations feature through their website, which will better promote their ongoing efforts on campus.

Billmeyer said she hopes this means greater international student involvement.

 “We would particularly like to see more international inclusion [within the Graduate and Professional departments at the UI],” Billmeyer said.

Over the summer, GPSG worked alongside UISG to plan the structure of the new International Student Advisory Board, which will voice international student concerns directly.

“It will… provide tangible solutions to the concerns raised by all of the international students,” Gillig said.

This year, GPSG has targeted promoting and increasing the funding for graduate and professional students as a primary goal.

“Travel and research grants are essential to graduate and professional students,” Scholte said.

A main part of the work GPSG does to advance the students’ academic careers is funding. Enhancing the students’ access to these funds will form a major part of GPSG’s upcoming agendas.

In past years, GPSG has collaborated with UISG to benefit undergraduate and graduate students’ experiences on campus, and will continue to make this a priority.

“Over the last two years, I have really seen the GPSG’s activities get closer with UISG,” Gillig said. “It has helped with collaborating to fund organizations.”

The organizations have joint jurisdiction over the Finance Committee, which oversees funding programs and student organizations all across campus.

The student Judicial Court, another joint project, maintains UI’s policies. 

“The joint member committees participate in discussing ideas and solutions for UI students,” Scholte said.

Also in collaboration with UISG, GPSG will be pushing for more comprehensive safety programs on campus.

GPSG participated, along with several other Midwestern universities student governments, in a conference to discuss campus safety.

“We plan to develop and further the programs already in place to promote campus safety,” Billmeyer stated.


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