The Graduate Student Council has been working since the beginning of the semester to address the new Graduate CLASS Fee that has been charged to all full-time graduate students this semester. The fee is $85 per semester in addition to the normal Rensselaer Union Student Activity Fee for all students. This week, to formally address the GSC’s position and interests, we sent a letter to the administrations on campus who are responsible for deciding how the additional money will be spent, the letter is as follows:
“To the Office of Graduate Education, Office of Student Life, and Dean of Students Office,
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) would like to thank those who have taken the time to meet with us as well as members from the graduate student body in the recent months to address the Graduate CLASS Fee that was implemented this year. Moving forward, we would like to continue our collaboration with the Offices of Graduate Education, Student Life and Dean of Students to openly discuss the variety of ways this new fund can benefit the graduate student body and enhance their experience at RPI.
The GSC would like to formally recommend how we would like to see the funds spent as well as policy around the Graduate CLASS Fee be structured. Policies that we request to be established are as follows. First, we would like a waiver process to be implemented for students who live more than a 25 mile radius from the RPI Troy campus. Once this waiver process has been established, we would like it to be clearly explained to all graduate students in an email from the proper administration. Secondly, we want all expenditure of the Graduate CLASS Fee fund to be completely transparent to graduate students. We request that there be an accessible financial report available each year. Thirdly, the GSC would like to be involved in any hiring process for positions that would be compensated, either partially or fully, from the Graduate CLASS Fee funds. We would like to meet potential applicants, and be able to give feedback for who we believe would be best suited to work with our graduate community.
In addition to policies that we have recommended, the GSC would like to recommend programming ideas as well as areas that we believe could benefit from additional support. As suggested by the former VP for Student Life, we request that a portion of the funds be allocated to the Graduate Student Council for our annual student events and to be under direct control of the elected student officials. We would also like to see a portion of the funds be used to support graduate student travel to conferences and skill development workshops. The GSC would be more than happy to be part of the reviewing process for applicants applying for additional travel funds. Additional, we would like to see funds allocated to graduate student groups on campus to aid in their ability to bring invited guest speakers to campus, support graduate student volunteers in the community with outreach programs, as well as student groups with involved graduate students who need sponsors for events. The GSC is fully supportive of additional programming for faculty/advisors in how to interact and maintain a good relationship with graduate students. Many students from our graduate body have shared with us their desire to make advisor training workshops mandatory, benefitting arguably the most important relationship graduate students have in pursuit of their degrees.
In the future, we would like to discuss the possibility of the Graduate CLASS Fee being included under tuition charges. This would most similarly mirror undergraduate billing structure and be more continuous with school-wide charges. Additionally, if there is need to increase the Graduate CLASS Fee charge, we would like to notified in advance and be supplied with reasoning so we can address our student body accordingly and eliminate the confusion when e-bills are posted. We would like to thank you again for your time and effort in working with us the past few months. We look forward to continuing our work with you to improve student life for all graduate students during their time spent at RPI.
The Graduate Student Council