GAPSA passes grant process revisions

Transportation issues and legislative priorities were also discussed.

by Cody Nelson

The University of Minnesota Graduate and Professional Student Assembly passed a resolution to change its grants process Wednesday night.

Currently, GAPSA awards various grants for academic initiative, travel and social events.

Amendments to the current grant application focused on making the process clearer for students.

Previously, some students were “inflating” their expenses, so the new application offers more specific guidelines, said Zahra Karimian, GAPSA’s vice president for grants.

Further amendments to the grants process are expected as GAPSA restructures, but immediate changes were passed at the group’s Wednesday meeting.

The resolution was an “overhaul” to GAPSA’s grants process and made it easier for students to apply, said GAPSA president Brittany Edwards.

Other changes to the process included more responsibility put on applicants and different application dates for next year.

Transportation issues regarding the Central Corridor light-rail line were also discussed Wednesday night.

The possibility of a fare-free light-rail zone and elimination of a bus route along Washington Avenue were the group’s main concerns.

Members said that they’ve had difficulty working with Metro Transit officials to address their concerns.

GAPSA member and Council of Graduate Students Vice President for University Relations Scott Petty, said Metro Transit was particularly against efforts to establish the fare-free light-rail zone.

“[Metro Transit] seems to be very actively trying to obstruct this,” he said.

Perry also said he was concerned that a bus route connecting East and West Banks along Washington Avenue would be eliminated and cause transportation problems for graduate students.

“Effectively, it’s going to be two years before they can bring the circulator back,” Perry said.

To address these issues, Edwards said GAPSA plans to form a joint transportation committee with the Minnesota Student Association.

The assembly also ratified the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition’s platform for the 2013 state legislative session.

The most important issue for GAPSA this session is the open textbook initiative — a push for legislation to increase the availability of online free or cost-reduced textbooks, said Chet Bodin, GAPSA vice president for student affairs.

Alfonso Sintjago, GAPSA’s executive vice president, said the group is also working with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to coordinate open-content advocacy efforts.