GPSA senators advocate for protection of graduate students from COVID-19 – The Daily Evergreen

New child care program created last semester; Now Taking Nominations for Evening of Excellence

The WSU Graduate and Professional Student Association begins this semester with big plans to offer awards and scholarships, and it is currently accepting nominations for its Evening of Excellence event.

The GPSA will set the stage for the fall semester by working on the bills that did not pass this year and planning how to better defend the bills, GPSA President Reanne Cunningham Chilton said. There will also be a greater focus on childcare and student mental health bills.

GPSA Senator Jocelyn McKinnon-Crowley hopes to see more protection for graduate students around COVID-19.

“Most of us teach large sections in person and don’t get enough masks and aren’t [told] if our students have COVID-19. The CDC does not consider this a point of contact,” McKinnon-Crowley said. “We don’t have sick days as grad students, and it’s just been tough.”

The GPSA’s role is to advocate for graduate and professional students across the university, research sites and outreach sites, Cunningham Chilton said. Additionally, the GPSA works with the WSU administration on issues that graduate students face.

The organization is for graduate students who have paid Pullman-based service and activity fees, Cunningham Chilton said. This includes those at the Pullman campus, in addition to graduate students from Prosser and Mount Vernon.

Cunningham Chilton said she was elected vice president for legislative affairs last year and served in that role through the summer and the first month of the fall semester. The president had to resign, however, so she was made president.

“I already loved interacting with the administration and different types of university entities to defend the students, so [becoming president] seemed like a natural fit,” Cunningham Chilton said.

There are senators in GPSA from all the different academic units around campus. Each senator must attend a certain number of Senate meetings, serve on a GPSA subcommittee and vote at the meetings, McKinnon-Crowley said.

McKinnon-Crowley said she served on the Academic and Student Affairs subcommittee. The subcommittee created an automated voting system for the GPSA last semester. Members began drafting a survey of graduate students, which asks questions about how their program treats them. They also advocated getting masks for graduate students.

The subcommittee also tracks graduate students who serve on university-wide committees. McKinnon-Crowley said they began work on the GPSA’s strategic plan in the fall and is expected to come out this semester.

The GPSA hosted seven social events last semester. They also met with WSU administration about graduate student needs, such as renegotiating student health care. They also created a new child care program to support graduate students who have dependents, Cunningham Chilton said.

Even with many struggling graduate students, they are still working hard to make WSU a better place, she said.

“That’s why the number of graduate students who have stepped up this year for advocacy, whether through legislation or just, you know, university-wide, is so much more. impressive,” Cunningham Chilton said.

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