THE 28TH SESSION OF THE REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE
Assembly Meeting Minutes
12 June 2009
Benjamin Banneker Room, Stamp Student Union
Prepared by Jacqueline Orlando (CRWR)
I. Approval of Minutes
Aaron Tobiason (THPF), who chaired the meeting in place of Anna Bedford (VPLA), called the
meeting to order at 1:15PM. Given that we did not have quorum for the May meeting, both the
May and April minutes were unanimously approved.
II. Executive Reports
A. Anupama Kothari, President
The Graduate Council has been reviewing the issue of the graduate student services at the
writing center, but that issue has been delayed until the upcoming fall.
Due to budget cuts, they are delaying graduate marketing programs for a while.
We have started planning for this year’s international pick-up program and have secured funding,
though we don’t know the exact amount of money contributed. This year, DOTs will not be
subsidizing the program so we will have to find out how much these departments are
contributing, see if we can contribute from our own funds, and then decide how many pick ups
there will be.
We have been meeting with officials about temporary housing for incoming graduate students,
and we have been told that there are some available for $25/night.
Assistantship cuts remain a big problem. In the biology department, graduate assistantships have
been cut and undergraduates have been getting them instead. Also, assistantships are being
renewed at six-month rates rather than one-year with the idea that they might be cut after those
six months. The graduate student grievance policy promised to publicize this policy but they
have not been doing that. We are concerned about the cuts and about the publicity that this
policy is receiving. The Provost promised us that assistantships would not be cut. Feel free to
send me an email if you have an issue and don’t want to discuss it publicly.
Thank you for all of your hard work this year, and we hope you will continue to work with us to
increase the quality of graduate student life.
We have mugs and recyclable grocery bags for assembly members as a thank you. These are the
same ones that were given out at GRID and they are Kyle’s design. Roberto will distribute them
at the end.
Next, we have three awards to present for the Presidential Awards for those outstanding
The first award went to Stephanie Sherrill (CHEM) for her dedication to GSG elections, and
Aaron Tobiason accepted the award on her behalf since she could not attend the meeting.
Tomek Kott received the next award to recognize his outstanding service to our website. He
overhauled the site and has worked very hard this past year on in. Anupama presented the award
The final award went to Kyle Gustafson for four years of outstanding service to the GSA as
VPLA, VPSA and VPFA and an outstanding assembly representative. Kyle said it’s been a great
four years in GSG and thanked the assembly for the award.
Henrike Lehnguth (AMST) asked if Anu had followed up with the Provost about assistantships
being cut, but Anu said that he canceled their last meeting because it was not a priority for him at
B. Anna Bedford, Vice President for Legislative Affairs (presented by Aaron Tobiason)
Thanks to everyone who has come to the Assembly Meeting today and who RSVPed, as you can
see there are some important items on the Agenda for you. Thanks to Aaron Tobiason for acting
as chair pro tem for today’s meeting, and my apologies for missing the final Assembly of the
year – and my last as VPLA. I’m presenting at a conference and can’t be with you today, but
there are just a few things to report.
Many of you have expressed an interest in the progress of the Tobacco-Free proposal for
campus, and as you know, this Assembly approved a resolution opposing such a ban. The
resolution went to the Campus Affairs Committee expressing the will of the graduate student
body. A resolution in support of a ban went before the SGA and was defeated. The CAC had
their final meeting, and is continuing their deliberations and this is a topic and policy that will be
continuing to be deliberated over the summer and into next year within the senate.
The CAC also deals with safety issues on campus and some members participated in the Safety
Walk and have expressed interest in including the report of the graduate safety walk in their final
annual report to the senate.
My thanks to the members of WAM who provided feedback for today’s Acts and Resolution,
and to the subcommittee that met concerning international student housing.
C. Jaganath Sankaran, Vice President for Academic Affairs
We had a meeting that was hosted by the Dean for all the GRID prize winners. We also sent out
an email to all of the funders for GRID to report on its success and they have all agree to
Susan Allen (COMM) said the Dean was great and it was nice to hear about all the other research
projects that won. The food was great too! My department thought it was a really big deal and I
just wish we had more people and I hope more people realize what a great opportunity it can be
for your resume and your department.
D. Tomek Kott, Vice President for Committee Affairs
I will wait until the budget discussion to talk about the elections committee and how we can use
our own website.
III. Committee Reports
A. Elections Committee
Tomek reported that the committee is looking into moving the elections process from Testudo to
our GSG website. We pay $2,000/year to Testudo to run those elections, and the though was that
paying the OIT to develop a program at a one time fee will save us money. Brian in OIT will be
developing this and we’ve been in touch with him to understand all the requirements. We’ve
come up with a document that reflects our needs and who would have control over the site.
Because of Tomek’s work with the website, he has been involved in this process to make sure
the new site looks natural and is successful. The cost will be $5,000, which is apparently low for
this kind of work, but because he and his manager feel it’s important for us to have this site they
are limiting their costs. It’s an investment and something that will pay us back in the long term.
It would be ready for next year’s normal April election. All would be tied into your student
login and the voting process would be very similar to the way it is now, but it would be on our
GSG website rather than on Testudo. If we need to run midterm elections we can do this without
a hitch of involving Testudo. That’s the goal and Stephanie and Aaron set that up through the
An assembly member asked if this would require OIT to provide ID numbers, and Tomek agreed
that one of the issues is that Brian has to work with Testudo and the Registrar to get the
necessary information since student information is private date. Brian would have more clout
with those offices, and it is to be determined if there is a fee associated.
Julie Cho Kim asked if we would have to pay Testudo to run midterm elections, and Tomek said
that yes, if we do midterm elections some other means will have to be decided upon. Aaron said
we could devise a system to hold midterm elections on our own without Testudo.
Henrike Lehnguth (AMST) inquired about visibility and wondered if there is a way to advertise
the elections through Testudo because it is a big local website. Aaron hadn’t considered that but
perhaps we could provide a link to the elections page on our own page. Henrike said that
students might go to Testudo anyway. Anu noted that two elections per year would cost nearly
$5,000 so after one year we would recoup our losses from implementing this program. Aaron
agreed that this was one of the big reasons they pursued this route.
Jacqueline Orlando (CRWR) asked if the election site would cost GSG anything for upkeep over
the years. Tomek noted that anything that was agreed upon and fails in the future would be
OIT’s cost, and anything added would be our cost. The system is intended to be very user-
friendly and won’t require much ongoing maintenance.
Kautstubn Jain (ENEE) asked if there is anything we can do for advertising since previously we
have relied on Testudo, and the committee agreed to keep it in mind for the future.
B. Presentation of Laura Moore Award
Devon, the former director of operations for GSG, addressed the assembly to explain that GSG
conceived this award to honor Laura Moore for the work she did in the two years that she was
president. She was not recognized by administrators for the traditional awards that are given to
other achievers at her level, so before we present the award we want to present Laura a copy of
the original resolution so she has something to hang on her wall.
Devon continued: This is our way of appreciating everything you did and all the sacrifices you
made to advance the causes of graduate students.
Jacqueline Orlando (CRWR) reported that the selection committee for the Laura C. Moore
Award for Leadership in Advocacy on Behalf of the Graduate Student Community convened this
week to deliberate the nominees for the award. Nominated were Ryan Patterson from the School
of Public Policy, Lenisa Joseph from the School of Education and Anupama Kothari, from the
School of Business. As the title suggests, the award honors the graduate student government
representative who has made outstanding contributions to advocacy on behalf of graduate student
issues. After discussing these wonderful nominees, the committee made its selection, and Laura
will present the award now to the winner.
Laura thanked Devon for slipping this through in the last meeting of the year and said that she’s
excited and honored for all this. Devon deserves an award for putting up with me for two years.
I’m committed to giving financially to the winner each year, and this is a prize to the winner and
this is someone I really enjoyed working with, the award goes to Anupama Kothari. It was kind
of hard to let go of it, but once I saw Anu and Roberto and the new execs in office I knew they
could handle it. Congratulations to Anu!
GSGA28-A3: The FY 2010 GLA Spending and Budgetary Act
Before introducing the new business, Kyle took a moment to note that he has had a good four
years with GSG both as an assembly member and an executive member. He mentioned Doc
Hunter, a former president of GSG, and noted that Doc had an air that gave the GSG weight and
legitimacy on campus. With Laura Moore, GSG became a serious assembly on campus and it’s
great that we have her award to commemorate this new era with the GSG. While he admitted
that he doesn’t have the full perspective of the GSG, it seems that Anu is doing a great job of
carrying it on. This is his last meeting as member of the GSG and he hopes to come by to Grad
Pub next year.
The business at hand is that we have not received any new EFRs in the past two months, and we
nearly ran out of money this year. We have attracted three or four new groups who have come to
us for money and really drained the EFR budget, which is exactly what we want to happen. Kyle
also spent some time with Ryan Richards, the incoming VPFA, and we’re going to team up to
get the budget into the new fiscal year. Ryan is in Africa right now working with rabid cheetahs
(he thinks), but the assembly meet him next year.
Bylaws command the VPFA to write up a new budget and present that to the assembly and the
assembly has the ability to make suggestions and edits to the budget so that’s what we’re doing
One edit will be the title, to change it from “2008-2009” to “2009-2010”. I was conservative
with the activities fee, and it could go down but we should be okay with revenue. There was
some rollover from this past year.
Graduate Assistantships have changed only slightly – Anu has reached the top of her stipend and
Roberto’s step will change. Up for debate is that the chief of staff/webmaster has been given a
dollar per hour raise and increased a few more weeks. In this revised budget, there is a
separation now between chief of staff and webmaster. Tomek has been our webmaster for the
past year and he’s been very good at it, but there is an opportunity for someone to come in and
just focus on the website. GSG should consider hiring a dedicated webmaster. So that area of
the budget has gone up slightly.
The Assemblies category covers refreshments, payment of the minute taker and miscellaneous
supplies like photocopies for assembly meetings.
Last year the Computer and Technology budget was much more because we bought new
computers, so that freed up a lot of money in the budget to fund the extra office salaries.
Moving to Programming, this includes Grad Pub, social events, GRID, and a new suggestion
from Aaron for a travel grant. Maybe $1,000 isn’t enough to go very far, but if we go to the
administration and say the GSG has offered this money for someone to travel, maybe it will have
a positive snowball effect. We didn’t spend all the Grad Pub money this past year because we
got so much sponsorship, but we still need to be conservative for next year.
The Advertising budget is still small as usual. For Financial Services, we have to pay the
university to keep their hands on the money not us, and we have to pay this fee of 5,000.
The Elections budget might have to be sorted out more in the future for elections if the program
does not work out.
Contingency Fund can be tapped into during the year as essentially a surplus.
The resolution is on the table to accept this budget for next year. Kyle asked if the assembly had
Michelle Zimmerman (Physics) inquired if there is a budgetary difference between the fall and
spring semesters. Is spending tied to one semester or another? There seems to be some
differences and she wondered if that matters in terms of spending.
Tomek explained that webhosting, a yearly fee, is paid only once in the Fall semester so that
explains the difference in that budget. In general, the budget is even for each semester and there
is no barrier to spend money across semesters.
Anne Jorstad (AMSC) noted that she had the impression that there would be fewer grad students
in the upcoming year due to the economic crisis. There were 7500 grad students paying fees in
the last fiscal year and that’s assuming no inflation. Roberto Munster assured the assembly that
if anything were to happen to affect the budget, like low enrollment, money would be taken out
of the contingency fund.
The motion to approve the GSG budget was seconded.
Tomek Kott proposed a change to remove the webmaster cost from the budget. He proposed an
amendment to move the $2,240 for the webmaster to either EFRs or Programming. Kyle said
maybe we should give weeks back to the chief of staff instead. Kyle asked Tina if 34 weeks a
year is enough for the chief of staff to work and she said it would be okay unless we got any
EFRs in August. Tomek’s resolution was seconded, but Roberto suggested we keep some of the
money in Office Salaries just in case we need a webmaster in the future. Anu and Aaron agreed
that while they would like to see more money go to the travel grant, Tomek has worked very
hard on the website and having that money set aside for that extra work is probably a good thing
since it goes above and beyond the normal work of a VPCA. Kyle imagined it as someone that
Tomke hires and then bosses around, not to take away responsibility from Tomek but to take
some of the load off. Tomek can then train this person while he is still here. With no further
debate, the motion to move the money was denied so we return to the original motion to approve
this budget as presented. The motion passed.
GSGA28-A3 The FY 2010 GLA Spending and Budgetary Act
Report by Susan Macek of Graduate Legal Aid
The request would allow the office to remain open to serve graduate students in similar capacity
as during he school year. June is always a busy month, and July is a wildcard. The office of
graduate legal aid is very busy right now, and this request would allow them to move money
from the operating expenses to the salaries categories.
Anne Jorstad (AMSC) asked how the office of graduate legal aid got to this point. Susan said
that she works 30 hours a week and Carla works 2/5 time, and they cannot predict exactly the
salaries needed when the budget is planned. Anu reminded the assembly that legal services cost
a lot of money and this is a valuable service for graduate students to keep aware of our rights and
the rights of our constituents. Aaron suggested this be a motion to approve this transfer of funds.
The motion passed.
Carla addressed the assembly, noting that the graduate legal aid office has been working for over
20 years and she has been here from the beginning. Two years ago we were cut off from the
graduate school and now we’re under student affairs and semi-independent. We see 350 to 400
students a year for legal cases. Our report demonstrates the areas of law; we are a general
council office but we don’t litigate. The office handles many cases having to do with securitiy
deposits and other landlord-tenant disputes like lack of heat or lack of repair cases, unlawful
evictions, anything you can think of in that field. We try to think about this in market value, but
it’s graduate students who are over-incomed for outside attorneys and the average hourly rate is
$250, so in terms of market rate we provide 400,000 market rate services. We also cover
disputes with insurance companies and personal injuries. There ware also arrangements with
outside attorneys for consultations when needed. We have tried to turn this office into an office
where you see an lawyer and get real legal advice when you need a lawyer. Carla there for times
when you need a lawyer, but there is also very strong peer advocacy information, and that is
where Susan would come in, and we can serve a lot more clients and students. We also help
students who are the victims of crime if the police are not doing what they should to help the
student. Health insurance is my personal passion for appeals and the statistics show that in
Maryland if you appeal you will get some kind of consideration in 50% of cases. Tell your
constituents to consult our office if they need assistance. We help students save money if they
have to see outside lawyers, and some of us would do the legal research for free although the
outside attorney would go to court with you. We try to be open 4 days a week and we’re
consistently busy. If something is happening and we don’t know why we’re not getting clients,
we’ll cut back on our hours so we’re not wasting money just sitting in our office and vice versa.
We consistently come up with excellent evaluations in terms of our client satisfaction. There are
small changes this year, small fluctuations in the population and also word of mouth
recommendations from friends. From time to time we consider expanding specialties, but across
the board legal services is legal services depending on the economy. The needs are still always
An assembly member asked if there are new ways to advertise the legal services office. The
GLA said that if they notice a slip in clients, they contact the GSG to remind assembly members
of the services offered. The evaluation always asks how students found out about the office, and
now 75% is from the website, and many student groups use word of mouth. It’s dicey though
because with a limited budget, too much publicity would increase clients perhaps too much.
Carla suggested that workshops are less populated because students only attend when they have a
Anu has been to a few departments and has given an overview of everything the GSG and the
GLA offers. She noted that if any assembly members want a presentation, just let them know.
Anne Jorstad (AMSC) said that during orientation we get so many fliers that are easily
overlooked, but suggested maybe in November the GLA could send out an email saying “Did
you know we have this service?” rather than right at orientation when students are too
overwhelmed with information. Susan agreed that the graduate school might be interested in
sending out something that would say, “here are the services we offer.”
The motion to consider approving the budget was seconded, but Aaron mentioned a discrepancy
over the number of projected students in this budget. Susan said that Salary would be where any
discrepancies would be funded from, so the office would just close for a few more hours if need
The question on the motion to approve was agreed to, and the request passed with the assembly.
GSGA28-R19 A Resolution Calling for Temporary, On-Campus Accommodation for New
International Graduate Students.
Roberto Munster reported on the task force that gathered to discuss this resolution that was
discussed at an earlier assembly meeting. Anne Jorstad (AMSC) said that she just learned of
some more temporary housing that is available, but Anu said that the only place was the dorms
that have limited availability. Roberto explained that this resolution would allow more rooms to
be available. Anne asked if the administration would just say that they already established this
Susan Allen (COMM) inquired if the task force asked the administration specifically about the
availability of rooms? Would there be housing in the whole month of August available?
Roberto said no, just for a certain part of the month of August, because the dorms are used for
Orientation during some weeks and some students have to arrive early. Susan said that the deans
are also trying to establish this sort of program for new faculty members who are coming and she
wondered if there was a proposal that would combine the two efforts. Anu said that faculty is
coming with salaries but students are coming in with very little money and it would be very
detrimental to combine proposals with students and faculty. The resolution is making the
administration aware of the huge numbers who are coming in. We advocate for students, but
there are other avenues for faculty.
Henrike Lehnguth added that most faculty have already been trained in the US and we are
advocating here for international students who are unfamiliar with the ways of this country.
Michelle Zimmerman (PHYS) had a similar experience and found that there was a system to pay
$25/night to stay in a dorm room, and it’s unclear how this resolution differs from that existing
program. If we are asking for temporary housing for 600 people, the resolution does not specify
such a number.
Anu asked if there were any students who are familiar with the pick-up process in the past.
Santander said that it was maddening to accommodate 70 people in three days. Varnika Roy
(MCBIOL) agreed that every year the student council of India goes through a big hassle but at
the same time its difficult for the orientation committee to find people to provide housing and the
number keeps increasing. It’s a tradition but it keeps increasing.
Julie Choe Kim said that Residence life does provide those $25/night rooms and when there are
so many residence halls being renovated this summer the rooms are even more limited. There
needs to be a more comprehensive solution to this issue that fits the scale of requirements.
Susan Allen clarified that Dean Harris says that there has been proposals made to buy and rent
buildings to this purpose but the university shoots down these propositions. It’s a kind of long-
term problem that we could make a few more creative suggestions on how this could be done
over a longer period of time.
Roberto said that we are talking about two very different things, but Faculty members aren’t
going to be in dorm rooms, they are going to be in apartments. Susan responded that Dean
Harris’s suggestion would be to have a hotel style facility for this purpose, and it has to be part of
the long term university planning.
Clara noted that from a legal aid standpoint there are a fair number of students who rent
apartments over the internet and they’re just disasters. Apartments don’t exist or they are
unlicensed basement apartments so if you want to use that information in this resolution, that
may be valuable.
Anu said that this resolution is also about creating an awareness of the problem for international
students and creating a community. There is a distance between the university and the problem
so they can ignore it, but if we can make this change then Resident Life will be aware of the
Michelle Zimmerman (PHYS) said that some of the objections could be amended by changing
line 25 to: “increase the provision of on campus temporary housing.” Aaron followed by
suggesting that it could be changed to: “provide sufficient.”
The motion was approved to consider R-19 as written, and Aaron asked if Michelle wants to
make that amendment. Anne Jorstad suggested: “Whereas the current situation obligates
international student communities to host new students in large numbers on available floor
space” to be entered on line 21. Henrike noted that she is worried that this makes it seem like
this situation isn’t all that bad because organizations have it covered. Karin French suggested
changing “obligate” to “places a burden on,” and Jacqueline Orlando made a motion to change
“available floor space” to “overcrowded private residences.” Anu suggested we say: “attempt to
host” so that the language indicates that the problem still isn’t solved.
Kyle suggested we use an actual number but Anu said the administration would quibble over
The changes are as follows:
Line 21: Whereas the current situation places an undue burden on international student
communities to provide temporary housing for new students.
The ayes have it for that wording, and with no further amendments the assembly voted and
approved to add this line.
The assembly suggested to add to line 24: “Whereas students without such on-campus
international student communities are at a greater disadvantage in finding temporary housing.”
This was edit also approved by the assembly.
Susan Allen (COMM) feels that such an important resolution needs stronger wording. She is
willing to vote on it as is but she feels we need more specific language including how to
advertise for international students. Karin answered that asking them to do something specific
might not work. Susan asked for numbers, but Julie said that nuts and bolts can happen in
conversation but this resolution shows the problem to the administration. Jacqueline pointed out
that this is our last meeting for the summer so this resolution must be completed now to submit
something for this upcoming August. Julie said that a resolution from the GSG that articulates
the issue without numbers would still help get the administration to listen.
Aaron Tobiason said that this resolution is meant to address a small issue of the larger housing
issue at hand. Without further amendments, the motion to approve the resolution was voted
upon. The ayes have it. GSGA28-R19 is approved as amended.
IV. Representative’s Forum
No comments were made during the representative’s forum.
Roberto Munster announced to all outgoing assembly members that they may take their nametag
but not the plastic sleeve. Aaron thanked the assembly for their attendance and noted a motion to
adjourn the assembly. The meeting was adjourned at 3:13PM.