Several diversity on the Walk committee members yesterday criticized the make-up of this year's most-watched committee, saying they support graduate students' demand for more graduate representation. At this month's University Council meeting, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly called on President Sheldon Hackney to appoint two more graduate students to the 25-member committee. Currently, GAPSA Chairperson Susan Garfinkel is the committee's only graduate representative. Garfinkel said GAPSA members want openings for one professional student and one international graduate student. President Hackney could not be reached for comment last night. Many Walk committee members said they agree with GAPSA's demand, and plan to support Garfinkel at their next meeting on November 8. "We absolutely do need more graduate student representatives," Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance Co-chairperson Robin Wood said last night. "They're an important part of the Penn community and they're grossly underrepresented on the committee." And Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said last night that "graduate students have been slighted and overlooked." But some committee members, including Co-chairperson David Pope, said they do not think it matters how many people represent individual segments of the University because the whole committee is working towards the same goal. "If we look at the committee as a group of people with focuses on different aspects of the University, then it's enough [graduate representation] because everybody represents everybody," Pope said. Pope added that he is confident members will work as a unified group once the committee begins discussion about specific issues of the Walk. Black InterGreek Council President Kathryn Williams said she would not oppose more graduate representation to the committee if she felt adding the members would benefit the group. "The only way this is going to work is if people act as a whole," Williams said. "The reason people are there is to represent their constituencies, but as responsible leaders we will have to decide how we're going to best meet everybody's needs." Garfinkel said she is not certain what she will do if the president does not change the committee's composition. She has considered leaving the committee. "There are two sides to the problem," Garfinkel said. "If the sole graduate representative were to resign from the committee, I would be cutting off access to the information we're going to receive. If I stay on the committee, then graduate students are lending support to the unequal view of the campus community, which is detrimental to graduate students." Other members had considered resigning from the committee if Hackney does not fulfill GAPSA's resolution, but most said last night they would not leave because their constituents would be left unrepresented. "I have a very specific constituency that I have to report to before I can make any move like [resigning from the committee]," UA Chair Harris said. "Undergraduates would not go for that at all." Pope said he and Co-chairperson Kim Morrisson plan to meet with the president this week to discuss committee members' views with him. He also said they plan to resolve the issue of graduate student representation before the Walk committee meets again.Comments powered by Disqus
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