Students to Vote on New Government Structure
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By Michael Le
On January 21, all registered students at UCSF received an online ballot in their UCSF emails asking them to vote on a referendum to approve a new student government structure, starting in the 2014 fall quarter.
The proposal would merge the two campus-wide student governments, the Associated Students of UCSF (ASUC) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA), unifying the student body under a single entity to be called the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA).
Currently, ASUC represents dental, medicine and pharmacy students, while GSA represents graduate, nursing and physical therapy students.
The idea to form GPSA developed out of discussions in previous academic years by student representatives of ASUC, GSA and the Nursing Student Council. As they noted, the current student government structure suffers from the following disadvantages:
● conflicts with the university's interprofessional values and goals of translational research,
● does not provide a single voice that can represent all students,
● lacks a consistent student government for students pursuing multiple degrees at UCSF,
● results in a duplication of efforts in planning campus-wide initiatives and events,
● is a source of confusion for Registered Clubs & Organizations (RCOs) as they determine where to seek funding, and
● results in redundant and inefficient administrative support and costs.
Both ASUC and GSA feel that the new structure of GPSA will better represent and support all students by:
● enhancing interprofessional collaboration,
● facilitating campus-wide initiatives and events,
● supporting cross-program alliances,
● providing a stronger voice to advocate for students, and
● reducing administrative redundancies, inefficiencies and costs.
If the referendum passes, ASUC and GSA would be formally dissolved, and all UCSF registered students would become members of the GPSA. Students would be represented in GPSA by the GPSA Executive Board, which is comprised of two bodies:
1. An executive council, formed by the president and several other supporting officers (e.g. treasurer, external affairs, internal affairs) to serve as executive representatives of the student body to UCSF and the rest of the University of California system.
2. An academic council, formed from student representatives from each of the individual student governments, that will serve as the liaison between GPSA and those governments.
As part of the referendum, graduate and physical therapy students will also be asked to vote for the creation of official student governments that will address their academic-specific concerns and needs, giving them the representation and support that their peers in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy enjoy today.
Formation of each of these student governments is contingent on the formation of GPSA and acceptance of new fees associated with these new entities.
However, if the referendum fails to pass, tough budget decisions will need to be made in the next academic year by both ASUC and GSA. Inflationary costs in the past decade and a lack of increases in student government fees have depleted financial reserves and made the current levels of funding for RCOs and other services provided by ASUC and GSA unsustainable.
The referendum was developed during discussions that took place during the 2013 Fall Quarter by the GPSA Planning Committee, a committee composed of dental, graduate, medical, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students.
This committee was supported by ASUC, GSA and the Office of Student Life throughout the discussions, and aimed to provide value for student participation to serve on GPSA, grant equal representation to each individual student government at the campus level, maintain the autonomy of the individual student governments and keep total student government fees unchanged as far as possible.
ASUC and GSA urge all UCSF registered students to take this opportunity to voice their opinions on the referendum, by casting their vote by January 28. More information about the referendum can be found at gpsa.ucsf.edu.
Michael Le is a seventh-year DDS-PhD student in Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, and a member of the GPSA Planning Committee.