12/6 Meeting Recap: 6 pieces of legislation passed in last fall meeting

At the last meeting of the fall semester, GPSA’s Assembly passed five bills and one resolution. The legislation funds both new and recurring events, and formally expresses GPSA’s stance regarding provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which would directly affect graduate students.

New Event:
Bill 67-25 passed, which allows for a LinkedIn Workshop hosted by GPSA in hopes of furthering graduate and professional students’ networking knowledge. The event will take place on January 30, 2018 from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m., location TBD. There will additionally be a light meal provided for attendees.

Recurring Event:
Bill 67-24, Graduate Writing Boot Camp, was passed. These events will run from January 22 through February 26. There is a registration fee, but lunch and refreshments will be provided, as well as quiet writing space.

Three co-sponsorship bills were additionally passed. Bill 67-21 funds a portion of the food costs for the Voices 2017 Conference hosted by Graduate Women in Science (GWIS). Bill 67-22 provides funding to State of State 2018 to help offset equipment setup costs. Lastly, Bill 67-23, TEDxPSU Co-Sponsorship, provides funding for the lunch that is given to speakers and their guests.

Tax Reform Resolution:
Finally, Resolution 67-02 states that GPSA opposes any federal legislation that would consider waived tuition as taxable income. GPSA commends efforts on behalf of the Pennsylvania State University to oppose any legislation that would increase the tax burden on its graduate students. The Resolution passed unanimously.

10/25 Meeting Recap: Assembly hears presentation about CAPS, three event funding bills pass

The meeting opened with a special presentation from Dr. Ben Locke, the director of Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). He informed the Assembly that they were able to expand due to recent increases in funding and now have three separate offices in the Student Health Center, Career Services Building, and the Allenway downtown (map). Dr. Locke emphasized that there are rapid access services to insure accessibility for immediate care. He finally noted that any student organization or department in the university can request a presentation from CAPS to help inform students about mental health resources and promote their services.

President Matt Krott gave his executive update reiterating the importance of taking the Penn State Values and Culture Survey. The deadline was extended to Oct. 31, so check your Penn State e-mail if you’re interested in taking it and making your voice heard. Vice President Brianne Pragg added that the functionality of the survey has been improved, and now provides more options so participants can provide a more accurate opinion.

Bill 67-18, “Climate Justice Panel Co-Sponsorship” was passed. GPSA is helping to provide refreshments to give participants interested in discussing climate change an opportunity to mingle. The event will take place on October 30 from at 6 PM in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium.

Bill 67-19, “Graduate and Professional Student Mixer” was passed. On Nov. 14, GPSA will be hosting a mixer at Café 210 West, with more details to come.

Bill 67-20, “Ph.D.: The Movie Screening” was passed. This bill allows for the screening of PhD The Movie 1 and 2, with refreshments, and will take place in January.

10/11 GPSA Meeting Recap: Legislature for Financial Literacy Seminars & Winter Gala passes

The meeting opened with a special presentation from Damon Sims, Vice President for Student Affairs. Sims began by discussing the consolidation of existing fees into one Student Fee and its impact. Vice President Sims then talked about how Student Affairs has been working on the healthcare issues which have been occurring within the last year, and that there is a continued effort to improve the process and involve graduate students in conversations about the student health insurance plan. Lastly, he reminded the Assembly to continue contacting their representatives as Penn State is still waiting for the passage of the Pennsylvania budget.

The main emphasis in President Matt Krott’s update was that the PSU Values and Culture survey is now available. The survey is a follow up to a 2013 survey which examined the culture at Penn State, particularly as it relates to community members’ ability to report wrongdoing without experiencing retaliation. He reinforced that this survey is completely anonymous, since Penn State used a third-party service to gather data and only receives the total data set, not individual responses. The survey can be found via a link sent to your Penn State email address. It takes 15-20 minutes to complete and can be taken between now and October 24th. Only 11% of graduate students filled out the 2013 survey – be sure to take it and make your voice heard!

Bill 67-16: Financial Literacy Seminars passed by unanimous consent. This bill permits GPSA to host three financial literacy classes in the fall, and five classes in the spring. Details on dates and locations are to follow.

Bill 67-17: 2017 Winter Gala passed by roll call. The annual Winter Gala will be held December 2, 2017 at the Nittany Lion Inn from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Some of the festivities to look forward to are a DJ, photo booth and a meal catered by the Nittany Lion Inn. Tickets to the Gala will be $15 per person.

As the Pennsylvania budget impasse continues, please continue to contact your state representatives to let them know that Penn State must receive its appropriation. To write a letter click here, and to a find phone number click here.