Grad students still have Sun God

    Efforts to foster better communication and awareness about the inequity between undergraduate and graduate registration fees toward Sun God are underway, according to A.S. President Jeff Dodge.

    “”This is not really such a big deal,”” Dodge said. “”We’ve just had some communication issues.””

    The issue sprung from the recent passage of the Athletics Fee Referendum, under which graduate students, unlike undergraduate students, will not need to pay $28.25 per quarter.

    According to Muir Junior Senator Nick Lieberknecht, he and other A.S. Council members first wanted to deal with the issue of why graduate students do not pay for Sun God and other events on campus. After the GSA decided not to be included in the athletic fee charge designated by the referendum, he and other A.S. Council members decided to create legislation that would address other fee inequities between undergraduate and graduate students.

    Last Wednesday, its authors withdrew this legislation, titled “”The Free Rider Problem,”” in order to improve upon it.

    “”We also didn’t want to torpedo [the new A.S. Council’s] relations with the GSA,”” Lieberknecht said. “”Both sides are trying to work at it.””

    Dodge echoed this sentiment.

    “”It is not by any means a spiteful way to get back the GSA,”” Dodge said. “”We were discussing student fees in relation to athletic fees.””

    Both the GSA and the A.S. Council agree that the issue is complicated and that more research is needed in order to properly address it.

    Among the most problematic issues is the fact that there is no current data on how many graduate students actually attend events such as Sun God.

    GSA president Catherine Salsman acknowledged this problem.

    “”It has recently come to our attention that the people at the door of such events as Sun God do not discriminate between graduate and undergraduate when checking for student IDs,”” she said. “”Unfortunately neither the A.S. nor the GSA has any real idea of how many graduate students may be attending these events.””

    Salsman added that anecdotal surveys of GSA representatives suggest that the graduate turnout is likely quite low. In fact, it is low enough that representatives from the A.S. Council decided that it is not worth trying to police the situation at this year’s festival.

    Graduate students such as Jesse Mills are also unsure of how many attend.

    “”As far as I know, grad student participation in these campus events is relatively low, proportionately,”” Mills said. “”Am I misinformed?””

    Undergraduate students are mixed on the issue of graduate students not paying.

    “”I think that the school is just screwing everyone out of money,”” said Thurgood Marshall College sophomore Nik Sadler. “”Hopefully this pay exempt status will carry on to undergrads.””

    Warren senior Lizelle Festejo said she agrees that more investigation in the matter is needed.

    “”I’m not too sure how many grad students attend Sun God but there are many undergraduate students who don’t go to Sun God but still pay for it,”” she said. “”I think more research should go into assessing whether or not grad students should pay.””

    Monitoring how many graduate students attend the event is logistically impossible, according to Dodge. As a result, this year’s Sun God will go on as planned and graduate students will still not pay.

    Dodge said he hopes the incoming A.S. Council will continue to communicate with the GSA in addressing the issue. In the mean time, talks of creating a taskforce to analyze graduate student participation in programming events have circulated within the A.S. Council.

    Other possible solutions in the future include individual fees for graduate students who wish to attend such events, co-sponsorship of campuswide events, or subsidies paid by graduate fees to help cover the per-student cost of graduate attendees, Salsman said.

    Although the issue is unresolved, both the GSA and the A.S. Council said that they need to know the facts first in order to best serve both undergraduate and graduate students.

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