Graduate Student Council advocates for travel grants, health care

Christina Vessa

Graduate students make up 19 percent of the Colorado State University student body, and have the potential to travel for free and receive health care funding through the advocacy of a group on campus.

The Graduate Student Council advocates for funding to improve the morale and make the graduate experience more affordable at CSU, according to President of the Graduate Student Council Jeff Cook, a third year Ph.D. candidate in political science.

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Jeff Cook is a third year political science Ph.D. student. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa).
Jeff Cook is a third year political science Ph.D. student. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa).

Increased travel grant funding for graduate students is a priority of the Graduate Student Council, according to Cook.

“Graduate students from underprivileged departments can request money to go to conferences,” Cook said. “That can help them get jobs.”

He said the Graduate Student Council has been advocating for travel grant funding, and it should be implemented in the next year.

The quantity of travel grants will be determined once funding is established, according to Cook.

First year masters student in journalism and technical communication Weston Dockter said graduate students should not have to petition for funding while representing CSU at a conference.

“When we go to conferences, you have to petition for an amount,” Dockter said. “If they don’t think that amount is justified, they will give you what they think is (justified). We are going there representing CSU, the research and work being done here. Why would you not provide us with the necessary funds to feel accommodated, and feel like we are promoting CSU in a positive manner?”

Weston Dockter is a first year journalism and technical communication masters student. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa).
Weston Dockter is a first year journalism and technical communication masters student. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa).

Dockter said that along with additional travel grant funding, other forms of tuition breaks would benefit the overall morale of graduate students. In fall, health insurance will be covered for graduate students employed by the University, according to Cook.

Second year Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering Nicole Ramo said health insurance has become a burden for many graduate students.

“It is pretty expensive,” said Ramo. “There is a lot of talk about providing additional resources for graduate students to find their own health care for themselves and their families.”

The Graduate Student Council has been working with the Graduate School and the Hartshorn Health Center by providing a list of health care resources to graduate students, according to Ramo.

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Although in-state tuition is covered for graduate students employed by the University, those graduate students are required to pay out of pocket for taxes and fees.

The Graduate Student Council has representatives on the Student Fee Review Board, the University Facility Fee Advisory Board and the University Technology Fee Advisory Board. Cook said fees can end up being a graduate student’s biggest cost.

“We try a lot to make sure that the fees we are paying help graduate students,” Cook said. “What are we paying in student fees, and how can we leverage that value better for graduate students?”

Nicole Ramo is a second year biomedical engineering Ph.D. student. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa).
Nicole Ramo is a second year biomedical engineering Ph.D. student. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa).

Ramo sits on the University Technology Fee Review Board as a member of the Graduate Student Council.

“I really appreciate things like the Facility Fee Advisory Board and the Technology Fee Advisory Board,” Ramo said. “Just everything that students have open access to, and a say on (where) their fees get spent.”

Recruiting graduate students to represent the various colleges on the Graduate Student Council is important, according to Ramo.

“The transparency is there, the openness is there, it’s just getting people to get engaged,” Ramo said.

Collegian Assistant News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChrissyVessa.