President of student assembly prioritizes goals for the future

by Sam Black

“We aren’t a sexy organization, but we play an important role and the people who sit on committees enjoy what they do,” said Bruce Bomberek, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.
Bomberek, a graduate student in chemical engineering, was elected the president of GAPSA last spring. He called the group an umbrella organization for University graduate and professional students.
He sees three major issues for his term, which runs through spring quarter 1997. Bomberek would like to build support in the State Legislature for the biennial budget.
He is also working on hammering out a solution for fringe benefits afforded to graduate and professional students. The administration made a proposal last spring, Bomberek said, that would decrease the benefits for graduate students. He is concerned the proposed changes would unfairly raise tuition costs for graduate students and cost some students their jobs as graduate assistants.
Finally, he said, the group will be addressing tenure issues. At the first assembly meeting of the school year, he said, GAPSA is expected to address a resolution that supports faculty opposition to the latest regents tenure reform proposal.
GAPSA has a mission of trying to get graduate student representation on various committees, Bomberek said. “Our needs are different than undergrads,” he said. “And people don’t know that.”
GAPSA was awarded $94,000 last year from the Student Service Fees Committee, which included a one-time fee of $16,000 allocated to pay fines owed to the state of Minnesota and the Internal Revenue Service. The fines accumulated between 1990-1995 because the Association didn’t pay their payroll taxes, Bomberek said.
Bomberek doesn’t think that the graduate students enrolled today should be paying these fines. “We are currently appealing to the IRS,” he said. GAPSA is also taking legal action against the person who handled the payroll during those years.
“We handled a lot of internal things this summer,” Bomberek said. “But the biggest challenge that faces GAPSA and the University this year is communicating what really happens at this University.”
Bomberek, a member of the fees-funded student lobbying group called University of Minnesota Coalition for Higher Education, said the coalition is planning to invite Gov. Arne Carlson to campus for a day. “That way we can show off what it means to be a research university,” he said. “And we can answer why someone would come to the University instead of somewhere like St. Thomas.”
Bomberek recently called a local radio talk show to defend the University, he said. He said he talked about the proposed tenure changes to give the graduate students’ point of view. Bomberek said he supports protecting tenure, and he wants to help sustain the academic reputation of the University.
The group’s office is located in 230b Coffman Memorial Union. The council is made up of about 50 students, most of whom are members of their college council boards. All graduate and professional students at the University are represented by GAPSA.