Rutgers University Graduate Student Association - New Brunswick

GSA Council Meeting #8, AY 2010–2011

April 17, 2011

[Major topics discussed:

— New Brunswick’s Student Advisory Committee
— PER 90-day deadline
— Student Fee Committee: review of possible increases for student fee

— TA/GA Steering Committee: Walk Into Action, National Teach-In, looking for students

— ISAC: looking for GSOs with which to work

— Governing Documents as presented by the Ad Hoc Committee on GSA Governing Documents approved

— Elections open]

7:04pm: Call to Order

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

7:04pm: Consent Agenda: Vote on Minutes from March 2011 Meeting

Unanimously approved

7:05pm: Officers’ Reports

President (Reshma)

Reshma: The VPLC meeting was last Wednesday; that is hosted by the Vice President of Student Affairs. The mayor of New Brunswick was present, and apparently a Rutgers University Student Advisory Committee that the City of New Brunswick has; it has no graduate students on it. I asked the mayor why this was the case. He was very open to the idea of any graduate student, as a resident of New Brunswick, to sit on it, so I contacted his secretary, but I have not heard back yet, but I am really hoping that eventually, somebody will step forward. If departmental reps could go back tell your department: this is a meeting that will be held, probably, two times per semester, not more. It would help in various ways because one of the things that the City of New Brunswick — they are opening a wellness plaza, which is scheduled to open in 2012 — they are going to have a grocery store, a gym, and pools for New Brunswick residents at reduced price. We do not physically need access to the gym since we have access to University gyms, but these are initiatives, and, as graduate students make up a large part of New Brunswick, it is important that our concerns are voiced, and this is a great forum for that, so if any of you — yourselves — or others in your department, ask them to contact me.

Treasurer (Emily)

[Budget projected on screen]

Emily: I have asked all GSO treasurers to give in their PERs for, since August. You have until next Sunday to give them in. After that, we will be insituting the 90-day deadline post the event. So, if you have PERs from August, you have until next Sunday, but after that, we will be doing the deadline. This is mostly so we can see what our financial position is at the end of this year. So, please get those into us as soon on possible, so we know how much is being spent.

7:08pm: Representatives’ Reports

Representative to SAGE Coalition (Student Advocates for Graduate Education) (Rreza, Jessica)

Reshma: Just by a show of hands, how many of you are aware what the SAGE Coalition is?

Rreza: SAGE is a national graduate student coalition, and it is comprised of public universities, members of both the Association of American Universities, and American public and land-grant universities. It was formed in 2008, and it is a consortium of governing bodies of graduate student associations. Reshma, myself, and Jessica went for the Days on the Hill meeting,

Rreza: They key emphasis is on access, quality, and opportunity, so they want to create a community of student leaders from the preeminent public top-tier research universities in the US, and it is committed to bettering their own student bodies and promoting educational access, quality, and opportunity. This is enshrined in all of the activities that SAGE is conducting these days.

Rreza: They serve as a network of graduate students at public institutions; they aim to empower graduate students to meet challenges of graduate education and to form partnerships across public universities.

Rreza: So, we received membership (and some of you may remember that Reshma presented this a few meetings ago) on October 1st from the SAGE Coalition, and we had peen provisional members until we attended Days on the Hill. So, we attended that event, and at that event, we were voted as full members of SAGE Coalition.

Rreza: So, this is a list of public research universities that are members of SAGE, and these are just the active members (there are another four universities which are in inactive status, and that is because they have not been attending the regular Days on the Hill event — which is lobbying with Congressmen and -women in DC — and then the Fall Summit as well). So, these are the active members of SAGE. That is us at the top, because it is alphabetical order.

Rreza: Days on the Hill is a lobbying event that is attended by most of all SAGE members, and we spent three days preparing for the lobbying event, so we finalize white papers for lobbying; we updated SAGE bylaws, set up different lobbying groups, and also had lobbying tips from experienced SAGE-ers. We had a lot of people who had been through this before, and actually were very good at telling us how we should go about lobbying Congressmen and -women, because we did not have much experience, but it was very useful going through what they did last year, and most of them are very familiar with issues that they are lobbying, because it is the same issues, pretty much, each year. So, those are the three day we spent preparing for the meeting. Also, for the white papers, we did some research — all SAGE members are required to do some research on some legislation. It does not necessarily mean that that would be a lobbying item, but that is like the starting point. Before New Year, they decide on some issues that we want to research, and then right after New Year, they decide which issues they want to continue lobbying.

Reshma: It is not they decide. We decide what will be the action items for a specific year.

Rreza: So, right after those three days of preparation, we had SAGE Day, which was: groups were mixed of different universities, and groups were comprised minimum of two members — up to five students — and we lobbied at least five offices during the day, but there was actually more than that for most of the groups. For the SAGE Day, the three of us were joined by a Berkeley student who was actually a New Jersey resident, so it was really good to have somebody from New Jersey when we were lobbying state representatives. So, the lobbying items for this year were: taxation indebtedness, federal funding for research, and immigration. If you want to have a look at the white papers, they are all online at

Rreza: Some of the lessons that we learned from attending Days on the Hill: it is good if we plan ahead, especially if students are interested in attending this event, if they could confirm early enough, so that we know who the delegation from Rutgers GSA is going to be, and also just booking and logistical aspects.

Reshma: How many of you are recipients of federal funding? You are the kind of students who would be most affected by going to Days on the Hill, and if you were able to go for that one day, where we meet with New Jersey legislators, or representatives, it would be wonderful because you just have a conversation with them. You tell them, “This is what my research is, and cuts to my research slow me down. Do not make it so that I cannot finish my work.” That is the most effective thing you could do, other than research for the white papers. But having somebody who can tell their personal story is the most effective thing. So, it is one day — the GSA will cover your expenses for travel, but students like you will make a big difference in the long run. You would really be helping the students who come afterwards, so please keep this in mind. Departmental reps, keep that in mind.

Rreza: When we say research on Congressmen and -women, actually the Rutgers Federal Relations Office was very helpful because they have an app which generates all possible information you may need for state representatives, so in that sense you do not need to do that much research, since it is already done for you, and all of the meetings are set up by the Federal Relations Office, so in that sense, half of the work is already done for you.

Rreza: We also thought it would be good to include some anecdotal evidence from Rutgers University — real-life stories because we realize that a lot of issues that we were lobbying, we knew that there are students at Rutgers who are facing those problems, but we did not have the time to go and identify those people and just take that anecdotal evidence and just support the white papers that we were submitting to staffers, so we think that that would be something that we would definitely want to address next year.

Rreza: The other thing that is requested of you is just to follow up on your visit, so when you come back, after the visits, you just report back to SAGE what meetings you went to, your feedback, your reaction, how staffers received your message, and things like that, and then also thank you notes to staffers.

Reshma: This was not more than two hours, so if you were to participate as part of the delegation, the follow-up just means you make notes during your visit about what they asked for, you come back and you send them a thank-you note with a copy to the leader of the delegation (if you are not the leader), and there is a shared document with the names of everybody with whom we had the meetings, and you just put your notes over there. It does not take time; it is very useful, because after that, the political director of SAGE will follow up.

Rreza: Whoever goes next year can follow up on those issues, because they do actually remember who goes and what they say, even after years. When we visited them, they remembered that SAGE was there last year, and they remembered some people and issues that they had lobbied last year, so it is very important to follow up, and that is something that was really emphasized in our meeting in DC.

Rreza: We recommend that you join SAGE Coalition, because it is an amazing experience, and for those of you who are interested in issues pertinent to graduate students, be it research or funding or immigration or any other issues that you feel should be addressed, and put some time to do some research for SAGE and to assist with some white papers, if they request. This time around, they did not ask us to help with white papers, but we presume that next year, we will be helping out with them.

Reshma: The Rutgers GSA is a member of SAGE, so you would be joining the delegation. You would be representing the Rutgers GSA at the Days on the Hill, and with the research, it is not that every student who steps forward has to take on a project. Maybe that would be one or two people. This year, Rreza and Jessica did it together. They are both in the department of Policy, so I think it helps if either you want to do it yourself or you are in a department like Political Science, Policy, the Graduate School of Education, graduate issues are more familiar to you than somebody like myself who is from Art History. If there is one person, even a couple of people who step forward and just take charge and delegate, it is really with a little effort that a few volunteers put in, you can do so much that in the long run, will be extremely beneficial. Are there departmental reps of these GSOs here, Political Science, Graduate School of Education, or RAPPS? If you could publicize this at your groups, that would be wonderful.

Rreza: At least one of the members to be able to attend Days on the Hill or the Fall Summit. Days on the Hill is the meeting that we attended lobbying in DC, and Fall Summit, Reshma can fill in on that.

Reshma: Yes, they just voted last Sunday to have the Fall Summit at Berkeley. At the Fall Summit, the focus is more on sharing internal best practices, but also working towards the Days on the Hill, and if you need more information, please email me.

Rreza: If any of you have some lobbying experience, that would be an asset, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to have some lobbying experience to be able to join SAGE, but it would be helpful. You will be working with a great group of graduate students who share the same passions as you, and there are times you go out to socialize and have fun. It is hard work during the day, but it is rewarding when you go out at night and have fun with an amazing group of people.

Rreza: SAGE is important for Policy, Planning, Political Science, and Education students, but it is not limited to that; for instance, we had a lot of students from science, technology, and math departments, and they had their personal stories, especially which pertain to federal research funding. So, it is not limited to these departments, but we feel that we should promote SAGE more to these departments because it is more relevant to their field of study.

Rreza: So, we just want to put it out there that you will not be alone. You have a lot of support from the Rutgers University community. There is the Federal Relations office, who are amazing. They scheduled with Congressional staffers, they provide you all of the background information you need on representatives or staffers. They are there to assist you during the meetings as well. We had one of the representatives, Meghan, was there with us when we had our first state visit, and then there is the Graduate School of Education and the Center for International Faculty and Student Services —

Reshma: — and the Graduate School of New Brunswick —

Rreza: — one of the issues that we were going to address this year was immigration, so we went to them [CIFSS] and got a lot of useful information on that. So, there is a lot of support out there! You are not on your own! If you need further information, this is the website for SAGE: We will also have a SAGE folder in the GSL, second office to your left. There, you will find contact details of people who have been involved with SAGE, there is one page describing what SAGE is about, and there is an activity log of what we did from the moment that we received the invitation to join SAGE. If you need further information, of course we are a resource.

Representative to Student Fee Committee (Vukosi)

Vukosi: I am Vukosi. I am the Chairperson of ISAC, but I have also been sitting in on the Fee Advisory Committee, mostly for the student fee. If you are a TA or a GA, you do not need to worry about this; if not, you are paying fees, and this is a big chunk of your overall tuition that you, as a graduate student, pay. One thing I would like to highlight throughout this is that all of the numbers I am presenting are all proposed; they are not yet finalized. They have to be finalized by the Board of Governors. We, as the Fee Advisory Committee, our job is to listen to conditions from all the departments that have an impact on the student fee. The student fee could be for transportation, the buses. We do not pay athletics fee, but undergrads do pay. Things like housing. We listen to all the presentations, and then we have to give a report, which we are still compiling, but I am give you a preview of what is going to be happening in the next few months.

[follows with possibilities of the University Student Fee]

7:37pm: Committee Reports

TA/GA Steering Committee (Erin)

Erin: I do have a really relevant report coming after Vukosi, because there is, in fact, a graduate student organization that lobbies for graduate student interests to the University — and we have been working with RUSA as well — we are the TA/GA Steering Committee!!!

Erin: We have been really active lately! We were involved in organizing the rally outside last Wednesday, the Walk Into Action. We were helping planning that. The Union portion is the speak-out on Brower Commons as part of the events for the Walk Into Action, because they are really trying to mobilize the student body and have a base of activitists, and I think we should complement that move by trying to bring in more graduate student activitists as well. So, I think this was a real big step when we sat down and discussed with different undergraduate organizations and other organizations within the University to talk about what our base is. So, the National Teach-In with Cornell West, we live broadcast on the web in two locations on campus, and it has been sparking a discussion. We brought in professors from different departments to have a panel. So, hopefully, if health insurance has gotten you concerned and interested in becoming an active voice in the government of the university. So, if you are interested, we are not having a meeting this week; we will probably have a meeting next Thursday evening.

Reshma: If a student does not have time for the meeting, what is the minimum that students can do …?

Erin: That’s a great question! In fact, you don’t necessarily have to come to the meetings to be an active part of the Union. Just simply talking about these things that you are hearing here in the GSA meetings or that you are getting in your email inbox from the Union, and talking about those emails and issues with people in your department and different professors, this is a really important step as well. One of the really interesting things I saw at the Walk Into Action is the discussion in and around. So, keep that up!

International Student Affairs (ISAC) (Vukosi)

Vukosi: ISAC just finished off its last big event, the Social Hours on Friday. We are working now on planning for the next year. I am running for re-election. We are looking for GSOs that will want to work with us going into the next year. If your GSO or committee is looking for ways to incorporate international students as well, or if you are American and looking for getting some cross-cultural activity going on, please do contact me or send me an email and then we can see what we can do in the fall.

7:42pm: Special Orders

GSA Governing Documents as presented by the Ad Hoc Committee on GSA Governing Documents

Unanimously approved

7:47pm: New Business

Elections for 2011–2012 (Rreza)

Posts are open: email to nominate yourself or any other graduate student

Procedures to be posted tomorrow to website

Voting will be online

7:50pm: Question Time (15 minutes maximum)

No questions

7:50pm: Announcements by GSOs

The School of Communication Doctoral Students Association, the Association for Social and Health Psychology Graduate Students will be having various lectures in the coming weeks

Rutgers Counseling Center to be present at Rutgers Day on April 30

Andrew (Events Coordinator): I just want to remind you that it is actually a requirement for your GSO funding to advertise your events on the GSA events calendar. Be sure that you send those events, just the basic infomation: date, time, title, basic description, location, to, and I need that as far in advance as you can, but at least the Sunday evening prior to the event taking place so I can put that in the events email that gets sent out on Monday mornings, and it will also go on the calendar on the GSA website.

7:55pm: Adjournment