Graduate student after graduate student in recent weeks have approached colleagues, faculty members and administrators with a heavy burden. Ever since late February when graduate students were notified en masse that their health care costs would significantly increase, fears about “Can I stay in school? How will I feed my family?” have dominated the minds of graduate students.
This is why myself and a slew of other graduate students are seeking your votes for Graduate Student Association offices. We feel as though we can provide more effective leadership than many current GSA officers, especially in advocating for the economic and medical well-beings of graduate students.
My name is Jeffrey Masko, and I am running for GSA Executive Secretary and Graduate Council. I have vast experience in organizing for students’ educational rights while receiving my MA at San Francisco State.
Danielle Rhubart (Rural Sociology and Demography), whom I endorse for GSA president, succinctly explained why change is needed: “… it has become apparent that although the GSA has grown and improved substantially in recent years, it will greatly benefit from fresh leadership that is willing to question the status quo and think creatively to address student concerns and improve graduate student experience.” Danielle has worked diligently with students in GSA and outside GSA to address pressing healthcare concerns.
There have been numerous students who are currently outside GSA who have spent numerous hours working to change Penn State’s healthcare proposal. Some of these people are running for office: Enica Castañeda (Communications) — Faculty Senate and College of Communications representative; Nathaniel Porter (Sociology), Morteza Karimzadesh (Georgraphy) and Colleen Unroe (Rural Sociolgy) — Graduate Council; Aparna Parikh (Geography) — College of Earth and Mineral Sciences representative — Karen Ertrachter (Sociology/Demography) — College of Liberal Arts representative; and Spencer Carran (Ecology) — Intercollegiate Graduate Degree representative.
While the GSA hosted last week’s panel on healthcare, it was the efforts of the people I listed that helped push the issue to the forefront and draw an overflow crowd.
The graduate student community understands the pressure administrators face to contain costs. All we ask is that before implementing any increase that the university explores all options and also work with graduate students on crafting solutions. My peers have many great ideas that would address costs without hurting graduate students who are financially struggling.
Voting us into GSA will provide the graduate student community its loudest advocates for its rights. Before you vote, please ask yourself the following: Am I willing to allow the existing GSA establishment the chance to “learn” from its mistakes or do we need fresh viewpoints to advance the causes that you believe in?