GAPSA unveils platform for new year

GAPSA promises to push for open-source textbooks and improvements for international students at the U.

Kyle Stowe

At its first meeting of the school year Wednesday night, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly announced its 2013-14 platform.

GAPSA will advocate for open-source content programs and improvements to the international student experience at the University of Minnesota this year, among other initiatives.

Along with the Minnesota Student Association, GAPSA crafted a plan for open-source textbooks and other academic materials at the state Legislature, but the measure failed.

Like MSA, GAPSA will push for a similar plan again but only at the University level this year.

“We want the University to become more innovative,” GAPSA President Brittany Edwards said.

Some College of Education and Human Development faculty members already created an open-source textbook platform, but GAPSA and MSA want a similar, campus-wide program.

Alfonso Sintjago, GAPSA’s executive vice president, said the assembly wants to work at the University level to discuss open-content initiatives further with faculty and staff members.

“We have our concerns, and we’re interested in seeing how they relate to faculty and staff,” he said.

GAPSA discussed creating a task force aimed at improving international student experiences at the University this year.

The resolution creating the task force says despite current services available to international students, some have “complained about a sense of alienation.”

Sintjago said many students have approached GAPSA members asking for help.

“We feel more can be done to holistically improve their experience,” he said.

The resolution says international students have a “lack of awareness” regarding the rights and resources available to them, adding that they have limited interaction with local students.

Sintjago said GAPSA wants to work with International Student and Scholar Services to help improve international students’ experiences.

The assembly is expected to pass the resolution during its next meeting in October.