The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly is taking a political stance against sequestration.
GAPSA passed a resolution on March 27 urging the Penn administration to minimize the effect of the budget cuts — mandated by sequestration on Penn graduate students.
Sequestration is the procedure by which federal spending is cut automatically across the board to limit the U.S. budget deficit when Congress cannot agree on a budget . It was implemented on March 1.
In the language of the resolution, GAPSA “is concerned that the spending cuts mandated by sequestration will have a deleterious impact on graduate student research and education across the country” and that “graduate students are vital and vulnerable stakeholders in the university community.”
Currently, a significant portion of the University’s research funding comes from federal grants. Sequestration is therefore of great concern to graduate students because Penn could lose up to $40 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, which helps fund much of the research done at the University.
Prashant Subbarao, Research Chair in GAPSA and a Ph.D. candidate in physics, is responsible for writing the resolution and believes that it is an area of great concern for graduate students.
“We are concerned about the potentially calamitous effects that these cuts to research spending will have on graduate students,” Subbarao said.
GAPSA Chair James Wiley added that passing the resolution wasn’t very difficult and that “the appeal of putting out a statement in support of research funding is one of the least controversial things that we’ll do.”
Wiley said there is great potential for collaboration between GAPSA and other Ivy League student governments in passing similar resolutions, and GAPSA members hope to work toward this goal.
According to Wiley, the resolution is of additional importance because it is the first resolution that GAPSA has passed in a number of years.
“In some sense [the resolution] marks a changing role for GAPSA in terms of being a political advocate,” Wiley said.
Subbarao added that he hopes the undergraduate population passes a similar resolution.
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