Rutgers University Graduate Student Association - New Brunswick

GSA Council Meeting #7, AY 2010–2011

March 27, 2011

[Major topics discussed:


— 90-day period on PERs: to be in effect beginning on April 17: beginning then, NO EXCEPTIONS

— reports from two Senators

— weekly Film Co-op

— Murder Mystery next Sunday (April 3)

— Teach-In on April 5

— Take Class Action on April 13

— update on health issues

— Ad Hoc Committee on GSA Governing Documents makes recommendations

— funding for Select Start]

[The meeting was preceded by a talk by Mary Diduch, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Targum]

[The meeting was chaired by the Vice President (Erik), as the President (Reshma) was at the SAGE Days on the Hill]

7:04pm: Call to Order

7:04pm: Determination of Quorum (required: 10 departmental representatives + 2 elected officers)

7:05pm: Consent Agenda - Vote on Minutes from January 2011 Meeting and from February 2011 Meeting

Unanimously approved

7:06pm: Officers’ Reports

President (Reshma) [delivered in absentia]

RU GSA delegation (Rrezarta Veseli, Jessica Chao, Reshma Nayyar) is in Washington DC for Days on the Hill 2011

The SAGE Coalition voted yesterday to convert the GSA’s SAGE membership to permanent status

Thanks to the following grads who have worked in various capacities for SAGE:

Jessica Chao, Holly Ennis, Vincent Grillo, Emily Knox, Cody Mack, John Mioduszewski, Rrezarta Veseli

Thanks also to Deans Harvey Waterman and Barbara Bender of the Graduate School of New Brunswick; Francine Newsome Pfeiffer, Vice President of Federal Relations; and Megan Arleth, Associate Vice President of Federal Relations for their support

Treasurer (Emily)

Turned over to the Administrative Assistant (Joe)

Joe: Hi! I am Joe, the Administrative Assistant. Those of you who have been around for a few years may remember that at one point, we did actually have a 90-day deadline in place for actually turning in PERs, so that after an event, you have 90 days to turn it in after that. Part of the problem for us is that we try to keep an eye on the budget throughout the year, and we give allocations in the beginning of the year, but we do not really know how much you guys are going to spend, and so we look at the PERs and see what you turned in, what you have not turned in (e.g., did you ask for fifteen operations meetings and you only had six). Since we have become lax on that 90-day periods, we have no idea what you have not turned in or what events you are not going to have, and so we are going to go back to that 90-day period again, but just to give you guys a running start, until the next Council meeting on April 17, you have immunity—you can turn in PERs from orientation (for all we care) at that point: it can be any PER throughout the year. Once April 17 comes—from that point onward, you have to turn in a PER for an event within 90 days from when the event actually occurred. After that point, you eat the money.

[Budget projected on screen]

Emily: Just so you know, we have allocated $189,000 to the GSOs, and you guys have so far spent $40,000. That is what we know. That is why you need to get the PERs in, to see how much we have going forward.

7:10pm: Representative Reports

Senator from Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy (Katie)

Hi! I am Katie Brennan, and I am a GSA Senator, and here is some of the things that have been happening in the Senate over the past couple of months:

Specifically involving studies that have been done with the Governor involving tuition caps and things like that: they voted not to have a tuition cap. There was a lot of debate about that: several do not want to sacrifice the reputation of Rutgers as a big-name research institution. That report is publicly available, if you want to read it.

Most recently, there has been a lot of talk about whether Rutgers - Camden is going to get a nursing school, which would be ideal for them. They have a department curriculum. There is a huge shortage of nurses in South Jersey, and apparently everyone goes over the Philly. There have been a lot of reports done, including by the Graduate Committee, which I sit on, and it looks like it will be approved, which means they are going to have to get new deans, nursing faculty, and things of that nature put. There are some schools that mostly pay for themselves, and it looks like it will be a good thing for South Jersey, but it does not necessarily affect Rutgers - New Brunswick, which currently has its nursing school operating out of Rutgers - Newark.

Senator from Graduate School of Education (Vincent)

One of the things we have voted for is to keep that Add/Drop Periods that way they are now.

I am on the Academic Standards, Regulations, and Admissions Committee, and we are actually seeking now to see if we could extend the last day to withdraw with a W, especially in the spring semester (it happens right around spring break, and not everybody knows for sure how they are doing in the class).

At the end of the Senate meeting, there was a discussion about the lack of Senators attending, and how important it is to allow people to attend these meetings and to have elections promptly so they can start serving.

Erik: We will be holding elections for Senators in April, and these spots need to be filled. If you are interested, please make that known to one of us. Let other members of your GSOs know that we are looking for Senators.

Question: Is there a summer commitment?

Cody: It is just during the academic year.

Question: Where do we find descriptions of the Rutgers Senate positions?

Cody: but you can also ask the Senators right here.

7:15pm: Committee Reports

Film Co-op (Laura, chair, absent; Dorothy, a committee member, speaks)

Hi everyone! I am Dorothy. I am not the chair, but I am on the committee. Every Thursday, we have a Film Co-op. Who has been to one of them? Okay! Yeah!!! Awesome! They are really fun, because they are a great way to take a break from their lives and watch a film! Actually, the next film we are showing is The Fountainhead. It should be fun!

One event that we are hosting is a dinner/theater/Murder Mystery night, which is Hollywood-themed. The premise is that the audience is going to be attending a dinner, and the actors played on stage are going to a pre-awards ceremony, and one of the nine actors gets killed, and it is up to the audience to look at the clues and guess who is the murderer. [Andrew hands out flyers.] Our own Katie Brennan is the lead actress—very exciting! We have nine actors cast: they are all from different departments of Rutgers, so it will be a really excellent way to showcase our hidden talent! It is going to be next Sunday, April 3, at the Red Lion Café in the basement, which is a really cool venue actually. I went there yesterday to check it out. It has got sort of an off-beat, kind of open-mic, café shade going on, so it is really cool. Dinner will be served.

Also, if you have suggestions for types of movies you want us to show, let us know (or let me know). We are a pretty open committee. There are only, maybe, four or five Thursday left open for movies, but we are going to continue on our committee over the summer and during the school year, too, so we are definitely going to put the word out for committee members. If you just want to host one night, then you do not have to be part of the committee and deal with all that mumbo-jumbo. We are open to having you just host a film night, so if you are dying to show to graduate students a certain film …

Andrew: Hi! I am Andrew. I am the Events Coordinator for the GSA. If you want to let us know, send us an email at or to Those are the two email addresses you should send to regarding any kind of requests for films, film night, things like that, so feel free.

TA/GA Steering Committee (Erin)

We have been in contact with RUSA, the undergraduate student organization, as well as GESA, the Graduate English Student Association, and they are interested in getting everyone involved in two events that are coming up, the first of which is a National Teach-In on April 5. This will be a lecture that they are going to videobroadcast and it is going to be all over all different campuses, and they were hoping to get other departmental organizations involved, just to make people feel like the tuition increases are related to larger political concerns like collective bargaining and all that stuff that has been going on lately in the news. That is the first event, and they are hoping that that will create momentum for the second event, which will be a rally on April 13 called Take Class Action. This is another thing that is going on nationally and that Rutgers students have wanted to get involved with. I have got this flyer that is going to be passed around, on which people can write their name and email and everything. If your departmental organization or if you are interested in help to plan these events—we especially want more graduate student involved with this. They are coming up pretty soon, so we would like to have a meeting possibly this week to work on planning things.

We had a successful campaign to get a bunch of graduate students to write letters to their representatives to express their concern about the potential raises in health care costs for graduate students. I do not know if you are aware of this, but Governor Christie has come out with his proposal that would involve raising the amounts you have to pay for health insurance from 1.5% of your salary to 30% of the health care premium—that would be like thousands of dollars for graduate students.

Andrew: The Teach-In event that is broadcast will be led by Cornel West and by Frances Fox-Piven, so that might be a further draw.

Dorothy [sarcastically]: Who are they? Just kidding. [Everybody enjoys a laugh.]

Question: What is the status of the negotiations on the health issues?

Erin: There are two bills currently going before the state legislature, and they were put forth by Democratic legislators, so they are a little bit more of a compromise. One would involve gradually increasing the health care premiums until they reach 30% of the premiums, but that would be over seven years, and the hope is that after seven years, a different administration would be in. The other proposal is more complicated along the line of specifications, but it would just be a similar gradually increasing the premiums, but not quite that high.

7:25pm: Special Orders

Erik: Last fall, we formed an Ad Hoc Committee on GSA Governing Documents. That committee was charged with reviewing and revising the constitution and the funding measures that the GSA utilizes. This is long overdue; October 1999 was the last time the constitution was revised. Now we are ready to introduce the fruits of that committee’s labors, so we are going to introduce the revisions to the constitution and to the funding policies (Cody and Emily are going to go over what revisions are being proposed), then we will have a 15 minute period of discussion when you guys can ask any questions you have about the revisions, and then we will close discussion. We will post the revisions online, and the constitution will also be posted on the bulletin board, and until the next meeting you will go over the revisions in more detail, and you can present questions you have or suggestions you would like to make regarding those revisions to Cody via his email address, At the April meeting, we will be voting on the proposed revisions the committee has put forward. So, that is how things are going to work. We did want to give a special thanks to those who worked on the committee. Those individuals are: Jessica Chao, Holly Ennis, Simon Knapen, Emily Knox, Cody Mack, John Mioduszewski, and Rrezarta Veseli. We want to give a special thanks to Naomi Fleming for all her tireless efforts that she has done helping out the officers and everyone in the GSA—not just on these revisions, but on everything she does.

Introduction of GSA Constitution (Cody)

Cody: There are three main types of changes to the constitution that the committee came up with. The first type of revision is just clarifying some various inconsistencies in the constitution and various phrasings that have led to some questions about interpretation over the past year or two. For example, there are various revisions to how new officers assume position and how old officers are to guide the new officers in assuming position. There were some problems this past year about who exactly was to do what position when the new officers assumed their terms in May of last year. Also, there is clarification that as a representative, you—when you come to these Council meetings—you are only allowed to represent one GSO at a time, so if you are here as a departmental GSO representative and if you are a member of another GSO, then you can only represent one GSO at a time. There are also clarifications on how exactly positions will be assumed when an officer steps down. Some of you may remember that in September, we had three officers step down due to various issues for each officer, and so I was left with a lot of work to do, so the revisions clarify exactly what happens in such cases.

[Diagram of GSA structure projected on screen.]

Now, the second type of revision, after the minor clarifications, is the changes in structure to the GSA itself. Currently, there are 10 committee chairs and 4 elected officers—so 14 elected positions total. We want to move to 7 officers and 2 committee chairs—so 9 elected positions total. The officers would be (same as before): President, Executive Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary, and then the new officers would be Vice President for External Affairs and Sustainability (this would essentially contain the old Graduate Student Issues Committee and Sustainability Committee); Vice President for Events and Programming (this would, again, contain the Film Co-op Committee and Social & Cultural Committee); and Vice President for Marketing, Orientation, and Communications (this would contain the old Publications Committee). Notice that there is a star next to the first four officers. The first four officers are what is known as the Executive Committee—basically us right here. The Executive Committee runs the day-to-day operations of the GSA, we do a lot of the decisions on how money within the GSA is divided (along with the Treasurer), we go over the agenda for Council meetings, run the Council meetings, and so on. So, just the four officers would be responsible for those functions, and then the three Vice Presidents would each be responsible for what happens under, respectively, External Affairs, Events, and Communications. Each Vice President is not necessarily solely responsible for every single External Affair, every single Event, or every single Communication. Each Vice President can—in fact, is encouraged to—have volunteers to assist them with their projects and can even form boards of volunteers. For example, the Vice President for Events and Programming could form the Film Co-op Board and give those volunteers more of an official position within the GSA, and so the Vice Presidents would do a lot of the committee chairs formerly, but will have a higher status within the GSA rather than just a committee chair. Essentially, the Vice Presidents will have all the privileges of an officer but without the responsibilites of an officer—i.e., without the responsibilities of the Executive Committee. The two committees that will remain are ISAC and the TA/GA Steering Committee. Both of those committees have been very active, and we see no reason to change their structure. Other positions within the GSA would be Commissioner of Elections—this person would oversee the elections. The Commissioner of Elections, as has now been clarified in the new constitution, would be required not to hold any other position in the GSA. As I mentioned earlier, the Vice Presidents can ask people to be various volunteers and representatives, such as to the SAGE Coalition and to the University Boards.

Now the third type of change, after the organizational changes to the GSA, is the change in how we recognize individual GSOs. Right now, there are various GSOs that have been in and out of active and inactive status over the years, and it has been extremely confusing for us to keep track of these changes, especially when officers change over each year. So, what we are going to do is require that each GSO resubmit for recognition at the beginning of each academic year. In practice, this will be very simple: all you have to do is upload your constitution, your member lists to our GSO database, and some of you have expressed concerns, by the way, about the existing e-gsa application which we use for online forms; we are going to change this over the summer to make it more user-friendly. Departmental GSOs will be aligned with a specific curriculum code. So, some of you may know this, but back when you register for classes, the University Registrar you a code based on your academic program. For example, mathematics is 640, computer science is 198, and so on. Each departmental GSO would be aligned with a specific program code—or program codes if more than one program is being represented.

Introduction of EAC Funding Policies (Emily)

There are quite a few changes in the funding policies, but the main part that I want to focus on is the categories. What we have done is simplify the policies, so that they are easier to read. The limits now are: if you serve as an officer or if you come to the EAC meeting, you are eligible for $5,000 per year; if you do neither of those things, you are eligible for $4,500 per year. Let me talk about the categories in particular. What we have done is collapse quite a few of them. There are now, essentially, two types of GSO events. There is Orientation, and there is Programs & Events. We have collapsed Operations, Departmental Development, and Social Events under Programs & Events. This means that, for instance, you only have monthly meetings: you have up to, perhaps, $5,000 to spend on your monthly meetings; in that sense, it will not work out that way because we still have meal limits for meetings, so you cannot spend a hundred dollars per person on your meeting, but more money is available to you. In order to do this, we have made a new category called Special Funding Requests. This year, we had something very interesting happen, which is that one of our GSOs wanted to get a big name in, and we had no way of giving them enough honorarium for that big name. This new category of Lectures and Productions is for when GSOs want to have someone who would be of interest to more than just their own GSO. It will go under a new category of Lectures and Productions. This is done at the discretion of the EAC and the limit of $8,000. We still require that when you have lectures and productions that are of interest to only your own GSO, those still go under your $5,000 limit. The other thing we have moved out is Publications, because publications can take so much of your money. People can spend up to $2,000 on their publications; those are also done at the discretion of the EAC. You can get $2,000, but that does not count against your $5,000 limit. In order for the EAC to run more smoothly, we are hoping to actually vote three people in to that position, and they will, essentially, be on an email list for the Treasurer, so that when changes come, they do not come just before the Executive Committee but also before those three people. So, there will be seven people voting on these particular categories. We will still have the EAC meeting, and most things will come up there, but if there are changes, these three new people plus the Executive Committee will be voting on them.

Introduction of EAC Annual Guidelines (Emily)

In this one, it is a little bit more succinct. These will be voted on every year by the EAC what the maximum reimbursements will be, but they probably will not change very much. I have raised the amount for travel expenses, so that people can try to get people from the West Coast in. We have also raised the amount for hotel expenses, and also the meal reimbursement has gone up to $30. The honorarium for GSOs is still $1,000.

Introduction of Model Constitution (Emily)

The model constitution is basically the same, but we have added two new positions to it, and we encourage you, if you are a departmental GSO, to add these two new positions in. One is a TA/GA representative, and the other is a GSA representative. Some people already have these in their departmental GSO, but we encourage you to add them to your own GSO. It is now in the model constitution.

Question Time for Special Orders

Question: The TA/GA representative that you propose: is that to the faculty in our department or …?

Emily: No, to our own committee.

Question: In the revised constitution, for a GSO to be recognized, it has to have a minimum of half of your members and a minimum of eight of your members as GSA constituents.

Cody: As graduate students, yeah.

Question: Okay, so where did you get this number eight from?

Cody: Eight is actually in the constitution already, in the current constitution. We added the fraction one-half just as a way to make sure that the GSA is funding GSOs for graduate students

Question: I personally agree more with the one-half than with the specific number. Some GSOs can be very small.

Cody: If there is an issue with the makeup of the GSO, there is a line (number 2): the GSA may recognize a GSO overriding that condition by two-thirds majority vote of the Council.

Question: That makes sense.

Question: I am just wondering what the rationale is behind collapsing the committee chairs.

Cody: It is difficult to get 10 people to, say, like a Council meeting like tonight; we have only a couple of committee chairs here. We found that it is much easier when you have people who can assume a higher position but can have more power to delegate their roles. So the Vice Presidents will basically have a higher status than the existing committee chairs, but they can more easily share the responsibilities of their positions.

Question: The member lists might be difficult for starting GSOs to kind of continue the momentum. Right when the semester starts, there are new students coming in; it is hard to get them onto a member list immediately at the beginning of the semester.

Cody: We can take that into account, but for right now, there is a section that a two-thirds vote of the Council can override that clause. But yeah, we can consider it over the next few weeks.

Question: Can you give us a summary for how we would apply for active status?

Cody: What we need is a constitution, member list, and the member list needs to have the status of full-time or part-time, affiliation, and, if you are a departmental GSO, a curriculum code. Basically, the easiest thing for a member list is just to get the netIDs of the members—the Rutgers netIDs—, and then the rest will follow from that.

Question: You guys are starting this process because you found difficulty in recognizing whether a GSO is active or not?

Emily and Cody simultaneously: Yes.

Cody: It is very difficult.

Question: What does that affect?

Cody: The funding.

Emily: We actually do not always know who the president of a GSO is. So, we are not always aware of who thinks they are a GSO, and who does not think they are a GSO. We do not really have an updated database of all of our GSOs. We have a database of GSOs that ask for money, but not necessarily all of the GSOs. We are also looking for ways to get in contact with you guys. If we know who your president and your treasurer are, we can send you emails, say, about PERs, that they are due on April 17. It is difficult for us to do that right now because we do not necessarily know that you guys have updated the information that we have in e-gsa. This is really so that we can have a working database of our GSOs.

Cody: Much of what is going on in here is just outlining the practical changes that will occur with the e-gsa revision when we update our online funding form and such. A lot of problems arise because, again, we have changeover of officers every single year, and each group of officers organizes their data in a different way, and so when we look back on GSOs for two to three years ago, we have two to three different ways of how officers have organized their information. Most of these changes will be practical in nature.

Emily: You do not have to be revoted in—I guess we should say that. This is so that your recognition continues. This is really an internal process. Once the new year comes along: update your information. Some people have their elections in the middle of the year: update your information when that happens. If you do not do that, you are in danger of losing recognition and you will have to get re-voted in.

Question: What happened with the new email addresses for the GSOs that we talked about in previous meetings?

Cody: I am talking to OIT about this. Basically, we cannot just do one at a time because it is difficult for them to manage that. The reason is that we needed to constantly have the list of officers for each GSO because OIT needs to know who is using the account for responsibility reasons. Not everybody has responded to me what eden account they want (what name they want) and who their officers are. So, I am waiting for everybody to respond to me before I give OIT the list.

Question: So I have to assume that after I send that information to you, I do not have to do anything else?

Cody: Right.

Question: What is the deadline for submitting stuff online every year?

Emily: It is before the first Council meeting of the year, which is also when we vote in the new funding.

Question: We vote in the new officers at the end of the spring semester, and they take over at the very beginning of the fall semester, but there is kind of a lot that happens that first month (for example, organizing all of the funding paperwork). I think it is reasonable to ask for that information, but take into consideration the fact that with funding due that early and with these requirements …

Emily: These are the requirements for funding anyway. You cannot get funding without giving us this information, and it has always been that way. We do not give out funding if you do not have a constitution, if you do not have officers, so this is making it very clear. You have never been able to get funding without this.

Question: Are there a lot of GSOs that do not want funding?

Cody: There are a couple that do not apply for funding.

Question: Why not just make the application for funding the action that enables you to be recognized?

Cody: We did discuss that, but there are some GSOs that just want status and do not want funding.

Emily: They are not separate if you apply for funding. It is all the same database. You do not have to upload things twice. It will be all one database. I did not realize that that was not clear. It is that we want everything to be in one database. We can essentially use our e-gsa database as a database for membership, but we will be working on the guts of it, so that it will be easier for you to use it and for us also to use for funding. That is all one thing. Once you apply for funding, you have essentially already asked for recognition again.

Question: I just have a question about the rationale behind 6(b) [Constitution, Article V]. My department has a lot of more advanced students all over the world in different countries, working, and do not necessarily have any interest or say in what our GSO does, and I am wondering if they are still required to be on our member lists.

Emily: This is an academic program?

Question: Yeah.

Emily: What we are hoping is that you will be able to get an academic member list from your academic person: the person who runs your department, your program, your degree. They should be able to give you a list of everybody that you could upload. You do not have to go out and find those people.

Cody: They are a member because they pay dues to the GSA.

Question: What is the purpose of you having that list? Is it just to prove that they are not making these people up?

Emily: Yes. In some ways, yes. People try to make things up. People try to overlap. We are also trying to get a way to get in touch with all graduate students. We do not have that at the moment. That has been a major issue for us. This is a way to do that. We cannot get a list from the Graduate School of all graduate students.

Question: Let us say that we will pay an honorarium to a keynote speaker. How does it work? Do we pay out of our own pocket and then get reimbursed?

Emily: It is the same way that it has always been. Honoraria require you to fill out a form, and then the form goes to our Administrative Assistant, and he gives a check.

[Joe (Administrative Assistant) asks a technical question about honorarium, to which Emily reponds with a technical answer.]

Question: How is it determined whether a speaker has broad appeal?

Emily: That is by discretion of the EAC.

Cody: So, the creator of PhD Comics, Jorge Cham, is coming next fall.

Emily: And that is broad appeal.

7:58pm: Old Business

Funding for Nondepartmental GSO

Select Start: The Rutgers University Video Game Studies Group

Nadav: Hello! My name is Nadav; I am the President of Select Start. As mentioned at the last meeting, we are a video game studies group—so an interdisciplinary look at video game perspectives. As far as funding goes, this year, we are just getting started, so it is mostly just producing flyers and sort of those costs. We will get into more events next year.

Question: The ultimate goals of this study group are publications?

Nadav: They are twofold. On the one hand, we are interested in publishing a video game studies journal. On the other hand, sort of being a group to foster video game studies and scholarship and spreading it out to other graduate students just to let people what is going on within the field.

Unanimously approved for funding

8:02pm: Question Time (15 minutes maximum)

[Questions from two GSOs of whether GSA can fund off-campus activities for a GSO; stated that EAC must decide on a case-by-case basis.]

8:12pm: Announcements by GSOs

[Announcement by Women’s Studies Graduate Student Association about speaker tomorrow.]

[Announcement by Matt Cordeiro, Vice President of RUSA, about April 13 statewide day of action and events leading up to it.]

8:14pm: Adjournment