GAPSA questions U’s plan for future

President Bruininks addressed GAPSA for the third time this year.

Bryce Haugen

Graduate student leaders asked University President Bob Bruininks on Wednesday for a commitment to involve students in future University decisions.

“Students don’t feel like they are a part of the decision-making process as much as they should be,” said Dan Miller, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly vice president for public affairs, at a special meeting in Morrill Hall.

During the hour-long meeting, Bruininks fielded questions about the University’s plan for the future, released in March after months of preparation. No students participated in its creation, but Bruininks promised students will be involved in the plan’s implementation.

“If I could roll back the clock and start over again Ö I would have put a representative from GAPSA and (Minnesota Student Assocation) on the team,” he said.

Bruininks asked GAPSA leaders to find other students, not just those in student government, to participate in the plan’s implementation.

“Many of you give enormous amounts of time to serving on GAPSA and we can’t overwork you in the process,” he said.

Bruininks’ visit marks the third time this year he has addressed GAPSA. He last spoke to the group just days before the University’s plan was released.

Some GAPSA members expressed concern at the University’s goal of becoming one of the world’s top three research institutions.

Mark Bellcourt, GAPSA vice president for grants, said rankings “seem pretty arbitrary,” and he asked Bruininks why the University was paying any attention to them.

Bruininks said rank isn’t as important as making sure the University “keeps company with the best universities.”

GAPSA vice president for administrative affairs Bobak Ha’Eri, a Minnesota Daily columnist, told Bruininks the University’s plan should be accompanied by improved marketing. Lots of University departments don’t receive the respect they deserve, said Ha’Eri, a law student.

“Are we going to have an office of propaganda, for lack of a better term?” he asked.

Bruininks, who said plans for revamping the Office of University Relations are in the initial stages, said, “We’ll probably call it something else.”

A few students also questioned how the University proposal to close General College might affect University diversity. One student urged Bruininks to expand need-based scholarships for graduate students.

After the meeting, GAPSA President Abu Jalal said the sometimes-heated exchange fulfilled the group’s goals.

“There was a good conversation and students got a good chance to voice their concerns,” he said.