The Iowa State Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) held its final legislative meeting for the 2020-2021 school year Monday night.
While senators will still be active until July 31 and committee meetings and Senate discussions will continue to take place over the summer, no new legislation will be passed until August.
A number of senators will not be returning to the GPSS because they are graduating. President Eleanor Field, a graduate student in entomology, suggested the Senate honor those members who will be graduating at the end of the 2020-2021 school year during the virtual meeting. Treasurer Charles Wongus, a graduate student majoring in education, took a moment to reflect on the GPSS and its impact on graduate and professional students at Iowa State University.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as a senator and an executive council member… we’ve been doing such amazing work and while we have been online this past year, GPSS has, in my opinion, done far more than we did in the past year,” Wongus said.
The GPSS hosted two guest speakers during the meeting. Cris Broshar, WorkLife & Family Services Coordinator at Iowa State, discussed the status of a child-friendly space in Parks Library, which the GPSS voted to partially fund in February.
Out of a survey of 200 student parents at Iowa State, 63 percent identified child-friendly study spaces as a need, according to Broshar.
The child-friendly space will be located on the bottom floor of Parks Library and will be able to hold two students and their children. Broshar said the target age group for the room is toddlers through school-age children, but that the room will be able to safely accommodate children of any age.
“We are hopeful that this will be available by fall semester,” Broshar said. “We are very excited to have this available to our student parents, particularly as we hope to resume a more normal campus student experience.”
Vivian Cook, a graduate student in community and regional planning, and Dhruv Raturi, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, also spoke during the meeting. They presented the feedback they received from an April 13 graduate student voices listening session, which was an open discussion with anonymous comments on a variety of topics like focusing on what was working well for graduate students and what areas needed improvement.
They identified a lack of communication and connection between graduate students across the university as one of the major issues attendees expressed concern about. More specifically, Raturi said, attendees mentioned a lack of communication between some graduate students and their senators in GPSS.
“There are quite a lot of hurdles for senators and graduate students in different departments,” Raturi said.
Cook and Raturi suggested that this was a contributing factor in the perceived lack of communication.
In addition to presentations from guest speakers, the GPSS passed three bills. Senate Bill S21-08 involved reallocating money from the fall and spring socials to an ice cream event set to take place next week, during which 500 vouchers for a scoop of ice cream from the Iowa State Creamery will be distributed. The bill passed with little discussion.
Senate Bill S21-09 also passed. This bill adds required language to the GPSS’s Constitution and bylaws to fulfill student organization requirements. This language, Field said, does not negate or fundamentally change the organization’s governing documents. However, specific language must be included to allow the Senate’s Constitution to pass through student organizations.
The third piece of legislation passed was Senate Order S21-01, which is a list of the spring 2021 GPSS allocations for graduate and professional organizations. The Finance Committee met to discuss each request and approve certain amounts of funding for each organization. The order passed with one opposing vote.
The agenda and meeting minutes are available on the GPSS website at gpss.iastate.edu/senate/meetings.