Grad students ban old funding system

The Council of Graduate Students amended its bylaws to ban passthrough funding.

by Eliana Schreiber

After realizing the current funding system was benefiting some graduate students more than others, the Council of Graduate Students voted to outlaw it last month.

In a meeting on Sept. 25, COGS voted to amend its bylaws to prohibit the council from participating in “passthrough” funding, a system put in place two years ago.

Effective next academic year, COGS will no longer participate in passthrough funding, COGS President Lauren Mitchell said in an email.

The passthrough system dispersed the same amount of money to each council that oversees the different graduate student programs, though some programs have more students than others.

Additionally, some graduate programs don’t have councils and can’t access the funds, so students in nontraditional programming do not benefit from certain programming even though they pay for it, said Nick Ames, COGS member.

“Passthrough has historically been an inequitable, contentious and unnecessarily complicated funding system,” Mitchell said in the email.

The council started using passthrough in 2015, after the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly split into COGS and Professional Student Government in 2015, Ames said.

Instead of passthrough, the council will now use community grants, which will consist of money that goes into COGS that can be accessed by any member of the group, he said.

The council discussed abandoning the system for the past year, and Ames said the Office for Student Affairs disliked that COGS officially ended passthrough.

OSA spokesperson Steve Henneberry denied the claim and said the office is actively working to explore other options for funding.

“The Office for Student Affairs is aware of [the] COGS’ constitutional amendment passed Sept. 25,” said OSA Associate Director Sara Carvell. “OSA has pulled together a consultative group to explore options to ensure graduate and professional academic student councils have funding for co-curricular activities.”

The money from passthrough was largely used for council-specific programming, travel fare and some smaller events, he said. In the future, there will be expanded travel grants through COGS.

This decision means students like Ames, a Ph.D candidate in applied plant sciences, who aren’t part of a council now have access to general COGS funds.

Though many saw passthrough funding as inequitable, some councils benefitted from the old system. GradSEHD, or the Graduate and Professional Students in Education and Human Development council, received the most money from pass-through.

Without access to these funds, fewer students in GradSEHD will be able to participate in research or conferences, said GradSEHD President Eugene Hall.

GradSEHD has one of the largest graduate student populations, he said, and now there will be a lot less support for these students, especially within CEHD.

“Now I think we’re going to be very limited in what we can do,” Hall said.