Rutgers University Graduate Student Association - New Brunswick

GSA Council Meeting #6, AY 2010–2011

February 13, 2011

[Major topics discussed:


— EAC meeting

— budget revision

— recognition for Select Start

— questions on GSO allocations

— Jorge Cham]

[The meeting was preceded by a talk by Cathy Stanford of the AAUP/AFT union]

7:10pm: Call to Order

7:10pm: Determination of Quorum (required: 10 departmental representatives + 2 elected officers)

7:10pm: Consent Agenda - Vote on Minutes from January 2011 Meeting

Tabled due to short interval between last meeting and this one

7:11pm: Officers’ Reports

President (Reshma)

The Student Advocates for Graduate Education (the SAGE Coalition): RU GSA joined it, and we are planning on sending a delegation to the Days on the Hill—this is a SAGE event for March 26–30 in Washington, DC. We have one graduate student who has been appointed a representative and will be representing us there; we would like to send a few more. If you are interested in working on SAGE matters, which are basically lobbying for graduate student education packages, things like taxation of fellowships, visa issues, etc., please step forward; if you know somebody, ask them to contact me. We are going to start this week. On Wednesday, Cody and I and several other grads are going to meet with Deans Bender and Waterman from the Graduate School to see if they can support us and put us in touch with the Office of Federal Relations of the University so that we can start contacting the legislators and arrange for appointments during the event. Are there any questions about SAGE? If there are, please come see me after the meeting, and we can talk about it. Email me: we have time for them.

On Saturdays, a couple of grads have started meeting here at the GSL, keeping our stuff in the office, and going either biking, walking, or running into Buccleuch Park for about an hour, so if any of you would like to join, I have a sign-in sheet, and if anybody you know in your departments would like to join us, then that would be great! I have students from different … from Busch, from Cook, etc. express interest. It should be a fun thing if anybody is interested. All speeds welcome; I will say there are people who run very fast and people like me who run at little more than walking pace. There are some who just want to walk; others who want to bike.

Question: What time do you meet on Saturdays?

Reshma: Last Saturday, we informally met at 10. There will be an announcement also on the GSA_EVENTS list.

Also, about SAGE, we will also be adding a line to the budget that we will be voting on today to support Rutgers’ participation at SAGE activities.

Treasurer (Emily)

[Budget projected on screen]

We had our EAC meeting yesterday—that is the External Allocations Committee—for spring allocations. I would like to thank these volunteers: Natasha Hodas, Katie Nosker, Diana Ortiz, and Rrezarta Veseli; also to our staff: Joseph Conerty and Andrew Spath; and officers: Erik Hoversten and Reshma Nayyar.

One thing in particular I would like you guys to notice as it is now is we allocated actually $142,000 (not $172,000—that was our projected allocation) and out of that amount the GSOs have spent $33,203. So, we allocated $142,000 and you have spent $33,000. Please, we give this money to you to spend. We ask that you turn in your PERs so that we know how much you have spent. Really, we are here to support you and your activities.

I will be presenting the next budget later.

7:17pm: Committee Reports

International Affairs Committee (ISAC) (Vukosi, chair, absent; Reshma speaks)

Have been having biweekly social hours that have been receiving a very good turnout and response. The last thing they had was a quiz!

Film Co-op (Laura, chair, absent; Reshma speaks)

Has planned to have an Oscars viewing party for Sunday, February 27. So we will have the Oscars streamed live, most likely here at the GSL, and we will send you more information on that through the GSA_EVENTS list. If anybody would like to volunteer for that (and I say anybody, I mean, of course, ask in your departments too if somebody would like to volunteer), they should contact us. We would love to have any help!

Social & Cultural Committee (Yogesh, chair, absent; Reshma speaks)

Has a Mardi Gras party planned for Friday, March 11.

TA/GA Steering Committee (Erin)

I just wanted to remind people that on Tuesday, the yoga sessions, the Steering Committee we are sponsoring that, so, in addition to issues like health care and your contract, really, what the goal of the Committee is make life for graduate students better. So, that is why we do things like co-sponsor events with the GSA and do yoga sessions, and so that is the kind of thing you can also get involved with. We have meetings at 6 on Thursdays at 11 Stone Street.

Reshma: I will say one thing. I came for last Tuesday’s yoga session. It was fabulous! So, thank you [nods to Erin] for doing that. It was very well attended. There were about 20+ people showed up.

7:20pm: Special Orders

Revision of Budget (Emily)

[Proposed budget projected on screen]

So, these are the changes that we have made to the budget for the spring. First of all, if you could look down at the bottom for projected external allocations, you will see that we allocated $142,688 to the GSOs in the fall, and yesterday, we actually allocated $38,000 to the GSOs, and I put in an extra $8,000 as cushion. So, overall we have allocated $189,157 to the external GSOs. This is money for you! It is approximately two-thirds of our budget. The changes you see up above are things that we are planning to do with our internal allocations. Mostly, there is a little bit more money going to the Social & Cultural Committee, and I have raised the money for the Executive line—and you will hear a little bit about what that might be for later. Most importantly, I have added in the line for SAGE. This is what are are projecting to have for the spring.

Motion to approve the budget as revised introduced; seconded; floor opened for discussion

Question: What is the Commencement line? What is that?

Emily: That is money that is requested of us from Dean Bender to support for the graduate students during Commencement. It went up by $1,000.

Question: I know you went over this at the beginning, but I guess I was not listening. What is SAGE, exactly?

Reshma: The acronym stands for Student Advocates for Graduate Education. It is the SAGE Coalition. It is an association of the graduate student bodies of some of the premier public research universities in the United States. The founding members are UC Berkeley, UT Austin, Michigan–Ann Arbor, Michigan State, UCLA. It started out as a conference at UT Austin in 2008 (I believe), and the founding members are the universities that participated there at that conference. It actually grew into a coalition where they decided to pool resources so that they have a more—I do not want to say bargaining power, but more of a voice in advocating and lobbying for graduate student issues at the federal level. We received an invitation to join them last fall, and they have two main events every year. I will tell you how it works. They have a Fall Summit where—and there are no membership dues, each university is expected to fund themselves—at the other universities they work very closely with their administrations, so they receive a lot of support from their deans, their chancellors, their provosts, their Office of Federal Relations, because everybody is working to improve federal aid for graduate education. The other event is the Days on the Hill at Washington, DC, which, I believe, is crucial that we attend this time, that somebody goes and we do have had one person so far, so that is good, because the way that membership works: participation, basically, gets you there, and I have been participating in what is the President’s Conference Call that happens once a month. Plus there are other calls so I have been on that, other grads (one other grad) have been on that so far, but others have stepped forward as well on identifying who the NJ reps are, what are they interested in for their constituents, how they relate back to programs at Rutgers, where these people might have studied, basically anything to make contact with them, to reach out to them and hopefully have them think about us. Once we send a delegation to any of these two big events, whether it is to the Days on the Hill in the spring or the Fall Summit in the fall, Rutgers gets full membership. After that, let us assume that there is no graduate student interested—and we do absolutely nothing—we will lapse into something called inactive status, and the moment (say three years down the line) somebody wants to do something for SAGE, you just return to active status, but until we attend one of these two big events, we are not going to get into that permanent status. That is why it is really important that we send a delegation this spring to the Days on the Hill.

Emily: Let me justify why I allocated so much to it. We joined SAGE during this academic year, and we are not (obviously) able to put any money into the budget from the school itself, so we will be supporting the students who go down to Washington for five days in a hotel, and, basically, that is why it is costing so much this year. Our hope is that we will get subsidized by the school itself in the coming years, and that line will go down. So that is why I put $6,000 in there—to make sure that all costs are covered. Whoever wants to go, it will not cost anything to go.

Question: What are the dates of that?

Reshma: March 26 through 30. So please, if anybody is interested, I have a sign up sheet. If you know grads in your department who might be interested, please ask them to contact me. I will say, on talking with the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of SAGE, I asked them about who are the types of students who are involved with SAGE, and it is not only the people who are from, say, political science or related fields: it is grads from across all disciplines, and it is a mix of American as well as international students. So, anybody who would be interested, please think of this as something you can really do a lot of good work for your peers.

Question: Just a quick question. It seems like we spend less money than we have. Is there a risk that next year, we would not get as much money?

Emily: There is always a risk, which is why we always save a portion of our budget. If you look on the left-hand side, we save $75,000. That is not included in the allocation.

Reshma: Part of the money comes from the student fees. That depends on the number of students.

Emily: Yes, and we will be getting another check this spring, and this will be updated with however much we get. So, I have a proposed—the anticipated amount that we will get, but I do not know exactly how much that will be.

Revisions to budget unanimously approved

7:27pm: New Business

Recognition for Nondepartmental GSO

Select Start: The Rutgers University Video Game Studies Group

Nadav: Hello everyone, my name is Nadav Lipkin. I am president of Select Start: The Rutgers University Video Game Studies Group. We have just got started this year. We have been having meetings since the fall. We had a few meetings in the fall and had one or two. We should be having another one soon this spring. We are here seeking official status as a group, and so our interest is sort of being vocal basis for increasing group of video game scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and in the hard sciences. So, we are trying to do this not just in, say, communications but also in your English departments, sciences, computer sciences, and so on. Our interest is in having and hosting a call for papers for a peer-reviewed online journal to provide another resource for people to get video game studies literature published. There are not all that many places right now. That is sort of where we are headed now. We look forward to, in the long run, being able to have visiting scholars, having public events, distributing some of this information to the undergraduates. We expect that, given the number of people already interested and the graduate students that we have already spoken to in video game studies, that that number is only going to increase, and if there is an organized body of people working in this kind of literature, we may attract more attention and, you know, get stronger applicants and so on. That is the reason we are establishing this group.

Reshma: Motion to approve Select Start for funding? Seconded? Okay, now questions?

Question: What type of questions does one ask in video game studies?

Nadav: It depends on the subject matter. Sometimes it is a matter of technical issues from a computer science perspective. For social sciences, this can be issues of interaction and sort of computer-mediated interaction, how people behave when they are playing online, for example. Also, for sort of a semiotics perspective or a humanities perspective, is what do the symbols in these games tells us about society? So, people are approaching from a lot of different perspectives.

Reshma: Addiction?

Nadav: Certainly that is more from people who tend to be attacking video games, so there are people who study that as well.

Reshma: More questions?

Reshma: All in favor of approving Select Start for funding, please raise your hand. Any abstentions? Anybody against? [Unanimously in favor.] Okay, Select Start is approved for funding.

Cody (GSA Secretary): We just voted for recognition. We never received a constitution last time.

7:31pm: Question Time (15 minutes maximum)

Question: If we did not spend as much as we are allocated and we repeat that pattern, is there a way within the GSA as it is currently structured to sort of do a mid-course recalculation? If one GSO may have a desire for more funding, and another does not seem like it is using its money, do you think it would be …?

Emily: It is possible to ask for more funding during mid-course, but we have a cap for all GSOs of $4,500 for non-involvement and $5,000 if you are involved on a GSA committee. So, what I am hoping will happen is that as the Executive Committee and our internal committees will be doing much more stuff. Everything that is there: you guys are welcome to spend all of that money. So, that is money we have said is yours.

Reshma: Following our funding guidelines, so you cannot just go out and play video games.

Emily: We do it by event, so if you have a new event that you would like to do—and actually, we are hoping that people will come here and play video games, so, you know, we are thinking about buying a Wii, so if people are excited about that … We are hoping to do stuff more as a collective group because that is a way to spend down some of our money. If we have more people coming to our things, they are larger overall.

Question: Last semester, we were discussing funding, and there was an issue of GSOs having their own account in which to, you know, use to store money for this and that and that became a big issue, and so I was wondering if you guys have had any discussion on that or thoughts on how best to handle that.

Emily: Do you mean accounts that we would put the money in individually for each of you?

Question: No, so you guys have a budget that we submit to get approval, and we submit our PERs and you give us a refund for that money. Well, the university became aware of some of the GSOs having their own accounts and that became an issue. Is that correct?

Emily: I do not have all of the historical memory about this, so I am going to defer to Andrew? or Joe?

Andrew: Basically, if you have an external account—and some GSOs do have an external account—that money does not come from the GSA. That money comes from external sources, not through the GSA because any money that the GSA allocates, of course, is given based on receipts and Post Event Reports and all of that. So we give money based on money spent, not based on requests. If GSOs are doing fundraising outside and make money and put it in an account, you are welcome to do that.

Emily: You can collect dues.

Question: Where do we get the tax info?

Question: That was my next question. If a GSO is making money, do they have to get 501(c)(3) status and become a non-profit?

Emily: You would have to get 501(c)(3) status for that account, but we would not have anything to do with that. If a GSO wants to do that, go ahead, but we would still be paying individuals back. I see no reason why a GSO could not do that. It would be a pain, but you can do it.

Question: You said we could do it, but is it something that we have to do?

Emily: No, not at all. The reason you would become a 501(c)(3) is that you would not want to pay taxes on that account which you have, and then if you wanted to buy things out of that account, you would have your own letter that tells people that you do not have to pay taxes, and so we would not be responsible for that. That would be totally on the GSO—and also to keep up that status—would also have to be done yearly, and that is a federal government thing.

Question: Just FYI for other GSOs: our workaround was to donate the money to the department, which means you get hit by the Rutgers Foundation 10%, but that seemed like it was a better workaround than becoming a 501(c)(3)—the best workaround is to create a trust, and then you do not have to update yearly: you just have one trust and then you update your trust every year.

Emily: I think for that it is a matter of whether or not the members feel like dealing with it.

Reshma: So if a GSO has an account and they get a donation, automatically 10% goes to the Rutgers Foundation?

Response from GSO representative: It depends. [Begins lengthy technical discussion of case of individual GSO.]

7:39pm: Announcements by GSOs

Joint Molecular Biosciences (Falu)

Falu: Hi everybody, I do not come here regularly, so I do not know anyone, so you guys do not know me either. I am Falu. I am from the Joint Molecular Biosciences. We are a joint student association of UMDNJ and Rutgers. Because we are a joint program, we get funds from both schools. I am here to tell you guys about an event that will turn out to be a very huge event—and I really have to thank the GSA officers here because without them, this would not happen. Just to get a number out there, how many people know who Jorge Cham is? How many of you read Targum? How many of you know PhD Comics? We are inviting him—we actually invited him for this year but that is not going to happen anymore—but he will be here next semester (hopefully, we still have not decided on the exact date). I was wondering if any of you, or students in your department, would be interested in meeting with him because, besides having a very informal gathering for him which we are deciding, we would like people for him to meet, especially because he tends to write strips on schools and the universities that he visits, so we really want to create a nice impression of us for him. I was wondering if any of you would be interested in meeting with him for lunch, dinner, breakfast, anything—you do not have to answer me right now—you can actually let Reshma know and we will organize that for you.

Reshma: One thing I wanted to say is that we wanted to invite Jorge Cham for this year, but our current funding policies do not allow for paying the kind of honorarium that he needed. [Follows with discussion of possible proposed revision to funding policies by Ad Hoc Committee for GSA Governing Documents.]

Reshma: As Falu mentioned, if there are grads in your department who want to meet with him, please do contact me.

Falu: Does anybody have any questions about this?

Question: How much is the honorarium that he wants?

Emily: This is the sort of thing that we are hoping that the GSA to support more. He wanted an honorarium of $3,000, which, overall, is not a huge honorarium, but is out of the limits for the GSOs. [Continues discussion of possible proposed revision to funding policies by Ad Hoc Committee for GSA Governing Documents.]

Emily: If you have more ideas about people you think would be interesting for the entire grad student population to see, please, please, please let us know. If you have any ideas about stuff you want to do, please let us know. These are the sorts of things that we can spend our budget on, and we can do them bigger than the GSOs can.

Falu: Initially, we were really hesitant of approaching them, thinking, like, come on, they are not going to fund us, we do not have that much money. At some point, we decided, you know what, it is worth it. I think the GSA here is really, really helpful.

Reshma: I will add a caveat to that. Tell us your ideas, and come to us with your energy and effort, too. We are four people, we are graduate students just like you. We are trying to do our best to serve the graduate student community. We have wonderful committee members and committee chairs, but the more people we have, the more we can do. They have come to us with this idea: they are doing all the organizing. Okay? I want this to be very clear, because it is one thing to say: I want—you can want the stars, the sky, and the silver moon—but you need to be willing to do some part of the work, too.

Emily: With the spring allocations, we have your contracts for you to sign, please see me after the meeting.

7:47pm: Adjournment