The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Nearly two months after the Coalition of Graduate Students appeared on campus to advance graduate students concerns, the bulk of administrators and graduate students are still unaware and unconcerned with its activities. Some administrators and several graduate students -- many of whom had never heard of the new group -- said they would like more information before they can form an opinion on the third graduate student group on campus. Some said they are skeptical that it will have any effect, while others said they think another group will at least promote more awareness of graduate students. Several students, primarily from the History and English departments, formed the organization last month to explore new methods of dealing with graduate students' problems at the University. One option they have considered is unionizing graduate students. COGS member Steven Conn, a History student, said he was not surprised that the group was composed of mainly English and History students because they are "two of the largest departments on campus" and have a high number of teaching assistants. But members and outsiders alike said the group's main problem is visibility on campus. "It's a good idea and it would be even better if other people were involved," said Allen Orsi, chairperson of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. "It would behoove the organization to do some more outreach." And some graduate students said last night they had never even heard of the new graduate student organization. "I've never heard of it," Julia Poltorak, a sociology student, said. "I never saw any flyers around. But I'm not very active in these activities because I'm an international student [and] I don't feel part of it." Poltorak said that although she is concerned about health insurance costs, she would go to the Office of International Programs and not COGS if she had a problem. COGS member Marc Stein said that "we're working on publicizing the organization. We weren't really an organization until two weeks ago [when we chose a name]." The COGS meetings, which have attracted between 20 and 35 people, have been getting progressively smaller. "Part of that is that there are a lot of graduate students that don't know what is going on [at the University in general]," Conn said. Political Science student Joseph Cannig, who was also unaware of the new group, said that he "likes the idea of unionizing and would join [in]if they did," but does not think the group will accomplish anything. "I'm skeptical that they can get anything done," Cannig said. "People have tried to unionize at other schools and been unsucccessful." Conn said that while more members from other departments would be welcome, the group is large enough to accomplish its goals. "In order to be effective you need to have a critical mass of people, and we have that critical mass," Conn said. History Chairperson Michael Katz said last week that he does not know very much about the new group and that most students are satisfied with the graduate history program. "You mustn't assume this represents dissatisfaction," Katz said. "I think our graduate students are among the most pleased [at the University.] Most of the issues they're raising don't pertain to the department, they pertain to the University." "History students usually seem to be politically active people," Katz added. Both Donald Fitts, the associate dean for graduate studies, and English Graduate Chairperson Rebecca Bushnell said that the only information they have received about COGS is what has appeared in The Daily Pennsylvanian. "They haven't spoken to me. All I know is what I read in the DP," Fitts said. "I think it would be nice if they would come to talk to me." "I didn't think from what they had said in the DP that they were seriously considering unionizing," Fitts added. Conn said that the group has not yet discussed what type of relationship it wants to form with the administration. Katz and Bushnell said they would be "receptive" to the new group. "I welcome their efforts to advance the cause of graduate student education," Katz said. "I like this group of people and I take what they say very seriously."

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.