Duluth campus adds a voice

A group of Duluth pharmacy students has joined GAPSA by paying fees.

JP Leider

This fall semester marks the first time Duluth professional students have been directly represented on the Twin Cities-based Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

Slightly more than 150 Duluth pharmacy students now have access to grants and other GAPSA resources because they recently elected to pay the approximately $11 per semester student fee.

Duluth administration will bill its 108 professional students in the Duluth Medical School next semester. Those students are collecting fees for GAPSA independently of the Duluth campus, so they will soon be represented through GAPSA.

GAPSA is an umbrella organization of college councils and boards that represents more than 16,000 graduate and professional students at the University.

Last fall, Duluth Medical School and pharmacy students met with members of GAPSA to discuss creating a chapter in Duluth.

For that to happen, all types of Duluth graduate and professional students would have to be interested, said Tim Cernohous, one of two GAPSA senators from the Duluth campus.

Until that time, Duluth professional students will be represented through GAPSA, he said.

While medical and pharmacy students are very interested in a Duluth GAPSA, graduate school and departmental master’s students haven’t expressed any interest, Cernohous said.

Those approximately 700 Duluth graduate and departmental master’s students are without a voice from a specialized and specific student council.

There is no organized council of graduate students in Duluth like there is in the Twin Cities, said Sara Kempner, president of the Twin Cities-based Council of Graduate Students.

Although technically represented through Council of Graduate Students, Duluth graduate students don’t really communicate with the council, so they basically aren’t represented, she said.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to help them start (a graduate council),” Kempner said.

The problem, she said, is with graduate program longevity at the Duluth campus.

While Twin Cities graduate students can enroll in degrees that take longer to earn, most Duluth graduate programs take less time to complete, she said.

GAPSA President Karen Buhr said her organization has been aware of a lack of a Duluth graduate council for some time.

“(Duluth graduate students) haven’t shown much interest in being involved – so they haven’t got incorporated in the process,” she said. “We want them to get involved, but it’s up to them.”

Duluth graduate students are represented through their college in the Student Senate – but so are undergraduate students.

That means undergraduate issues often get more consideration than graduate issues, said Student Senate chair Josh Breyfogle, a Duluth student.

“They’re represented, but I don’t know if they’re represented as well as they could be,” he said.

In addition to GAPSA, Duluth graduate and professional students can seek representation through the Duluth campus’ Student Association.