Funding for graduate student councils restored by COGS

A spat over the unannounced changes made to graduate student council funding came to a close when members voted to continue funding.

David Clarey

After meetings turned into heated arguments earlier this year, the Council of Graduate Students has put a funding feud to rest for now.

A disagreement between COGS and graduate school councils originated in a September meeting when COGS executive members considered withholding funding from the councils and using it for community-building grants.

In a meeting on Nov. 14, the COGS General Assembly voted to end the stalemate between groups and continue pass-through funding.

COGS receives funding from student services fees based on requests from graduate student councils, said Jonathan Borowsky, speaker of COGS. But these funds only go to students in the seven graduate schools that are represented by COGS.

The system wasn’t fair, said COGS President Nicholas Goldsmith, and it made the groups reconsider the model’s future.

“What to do this year and what to do in the future are two different issues,” he said, adding that although things haven’t changed this year, he’d like to see a different model in the future.

Borowsky said the result wasn’t his preference either, but he said he is happy the issue is resolved.

During the disputes over funding last month, Borowsky favored discontinuing pass-through funding.

After meetings with members from Graduate and Professional Students in Education and Human Development (GradSEHD), Borowsky agreed that withholding the funding without notice was a mistake, but he maintained that changes are still necessary to make it a fair system.

Borowsky said he would prefer the graduate student councils to be independently funded by their respective colleges, but those types of changes are out of their hands.

“In future years, funding streams … [will] depend on what the college administration and what the people who run the student services fee process are willing to organize,” he said.

He said COGS members are reluctant to continue a system that allows student government groups to rely on COGS for funding, Borowsky said.

GradSEHD President Jeremiah Dean said there are some issues with pass-through, but the way the changes were implemented was unfair to GradSEHD and other councils.

Dean said the relationship between GradSEHD and COGS has improved since the dispute, but changes should be more transparent in the future.

“It’s certainly … created a chasm of trust,” he said. “Graduate students should be held to the same standard that we expect the University to operate at.”

Rilyn Eischens contributed to this report.