The Graduate Student Senate: an overview
The Graduate Student Senate (GSS) serves as the graduate students’ representative body at the University of Massachusetts. The GSS works with the University administration, the University’s Board of Trustees, and other administrative offices to advocate for, present the views of, and protect the interests of UMass graduate students. As an office, we pursue policies and objectives that serve to advance the social, cultural, material, and academic needs of the graduate community.
Officers and Functions
The three officers of the Senate (President, Vice President, and Treasurer) comprise the Senate’s Executive Committee and are elected each Spring semester for the following year academic year. For Spring 2011, the GSS Officers are Wenbo Shao (GSS President); Changqin Xia (GSS Vice President Pro Tem); and Li Gu (GSS Treasurer). The Executive Committee meets weekly, reviews motions for Senate meetings, decides on budgetary matters, and acts on behalf of the Senate to represent graduate student interests.
GSS Budget and Operations
The GSS has an annual budget derived from the Graduate Senate Tax. Upon reviewing the recommendations of the Finance Committee, the Senate appropriates funds to campus-based organizations, offices, and programs. Some of the services and agencies the GSS funds include the GSS Child Care Assistance Program, Student Legal Services Office (SLSO), Commuter Services and Housing Resource Center, Student Union Craft Center, Student Union Art Gallery, New World Theater, Everywoman’s Center (EWC) Counseling Services, and graduate student groups and events.
Line-Item and Ad-Hoc Funding
Administrative support and funding support are provided by the Senate for registered departmental and other graduate student organizations as well. The funding support consists of Line-item funding and Ad-hoc funding. A Line-item grant is intended as a direct subsidy of the recipient’s operating budget for one fiscal year, which should be applied in spring semester for the next fiscal year and is not restricted to specific aspects of the funded group’s program. Groups needing funding for specific events or purposes can apply for Ad-hoc funding which are considered throughout the year.
GSS Childcare Assistance Program
The GSS budget supports the GSS Childcare Assistance Program, which aims to provide child care assistance to all eligible graduate student families on an inclusive and equitable basis. All graduate students with one or more children under 12 years of age are eligible to apply for this GSS subsidy. The Childcare Assistance Program is financed through a combination of funding sources including: the Graduate Student Senate Tax, Child Care Funds from the GEO/UAW collective bargaining agreement, and the UAW/UMASS Health and Welfare Trust Fund. The subsidies are generally allocated during the beginning of the fall and spring semester for use during the academic year.
The Graduate Women’s Network
The Graduate Student Senate also funds the Graduate Women’s Network (GWN), which represents women graduate students and serves as a forum for responding to the needs of women on campus. The current GWN Coordinator is Hongmei Sun. GWN connects women graduate students in a supportive and empowering group environment, through the creation, facilitation, and support of on-campus groups including a Writing Group, a Dissertation Support Group, a Mom’s Group, and a weekly Yoga group. GWN supports and cosponsors workshop concerning topics such women’s health, campus violence, issues affecting the GLBTQ community, sexual health, and creating and sustaining healthy relationships. Together with Everywoman’s Center, the Women of Color Leadership Network, the Stonewall Center and Student Legal Services Office, GWN works tirelessly for graduate women students’ welfare. More information about GWN can be found at http://blogs.umass.edu/gssgwn/.
Graduate Student Representation on Campus
The Senate appoints graduate student representative to numerous university-wide councils including the Graduate Council, the Research Council, the Health Council, the Academic Matters Council, and the Student Affairs and University Life Council. GSS also appoints representatives to administrative personnel search committees, and committees such as those concerned with the operations of the Campus Center and the W.E.B. DuBois Library. The Senate’s most direct form of communication and influence is through the inclusion of graduate student representatives on these committees and councils. Graduate student representation is one of the major avenues available to the GSS to influence University policies that affect the graduate student community. More information is available on our website at: http://www.umassgss.org/councils-and-committees/ and at http://www.umass.edu/senate/councils/graduate.html.
The Voice: The Graduate Student Senate Newspaper
The Senate also publishes a graduate student newspaper, The Voice, which provides graduate students with information about GSS and campus activities, and serves as a forum for commentaries on issues affecting graduate students at UMass. The Voice welcomes contributions from all members of the university as well as surrounding communities, and inquiries may be directed to the Voice Editor, Adina Giannelli, at gss-voice.grad.umass.edu. As of Fall 2010, The Voice has gone paperless, and readers can easily access the online publication at http://www.umassgss.org/the-voice/the-voice-late-late-fall-2010-edition/.
The GSS meets regularly throughout the academic year, and the GSS Office (919 Campus Center) is staffed Monday-Thursday, 9am-5pm during that time. For assistance with a problem or question, or for any further information about anything GSS-related, please stop by the GSS office during office hours; call 545-2896; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If we’re out of the office, information about the Graduate Student Senate and its various services may be accessed anytime at www.umassgss.org. Everyone at GSS wishes you a productive, safe and happy spring semester!
Wenbo Shao is the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Senate President for the 2010-2011 academic year. She is also a graduate student in the University’s School of Education.