University plans to survey graduate student concerns

Liz Kohman

University graduate students are mobilizing to voice their concerns in an institution they say caters to the needs of the undergraduate.

Undergraduate needs have received more attention in the past, said Melinda Jackson, president of the Council of Graduate Students.

“Graduate students have been getting more organized,” she said.

Graduate and professional students account for 28 percent of University students and earned 45 percent of degrees awarded in 2000, according to a report released by the Graduate School. The number of students earning their master’s degrees through the University has increased by 33 percent since 1992.

Issues ranging from health insurance to the lack of affordable housing were named as important to graduate students.

While they have concerns about life at the University and want to make sure their voices are heard, Jackson said, they don’t mean to complain. “We want to make our graduate school experience the best it can be,” she said.

Two surveys aimed at determining the needs and concerns of graduate students will be released in January.

One survey, issued through the Office of Institutional Research & Reporting, will poll a selected sample of students. Those randomly chosen for the sample will be notified via e-mail.

The COGS Web site will display the other survey. Any graduate student can respond to the questions posted on the Web site. Both surveys will be available during the first week of classes.

The results of the surveys will be released in the spring.

The Council of Graduate Students is working to address some concerns they know exist. During the past semester, COGS, which is made up of nearly 75 students representing approximately 8,000 graduate students on campus, created four working groups addressing affordable housing needs, academics, health insurance and employment.

Last month, Jackson and Phillip Cole, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, told the University Board of Regents Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee about graduate students’ concerns.

Cole told the committee the new surveys will help identify issues, and then graduate students and University administration can focus on solutions.

Jackson said University administration already seems more responsive to graduate student needs, especially since graduate students make up a significant percentage of the University population.

“We know we won’t solve all the problems at one time,” Regent David Metzen said in response to the graduate student presentation. “It’s an easy group to miss. I’m glad this report is in.”

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected]