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Campus News

Campus News

Coffee, Faxes, and Copies Offered at GSO

by Tavonna Goodman

Left to right: Atussa Hatami, Gurinder Singh, Gottlieb Jicha III, and Florencia Cornet
Left to right: Atussa Hatami, Gurinder Singh, Gottlieb Jicha III, and Florencia Cornet

UAlbany’s Graduate Student Organization (GSO) instituted many changes this spring semester.

The GSO is offering increased opportunities for recognition and involvement to students, staff, and faculty.

“I want to raise awareness about the programs that are being initiated because, with involvement from the incoming graduate students, they have great potential to blossom,” said Florencia Cornet, chair of the GSO Multicultural and Affirmative Action committee (MCAA), and senator to the graduate student body.

The MCAA seeks to educate people about cultures different from their own by hosting events that welcome people from all ethnicities and backgrounds. The MCAA is also committed to the elimination of discrimination based on age, race, color, different abilities, religion or creed, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin.

May 1-2, the MCAA organized the first annual Graduate Student Recognition Ceremony. Eight graduate students researching topics related to cultural diversity were honored. Each student gave a synopsis of his or her research and was then presented with a certificate of recognition from the MCAA.

“This event provided an excellent opportunity for students to get together and share their research in a friendly environment,” said Thely Lopez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, who presented her research on Brazilian transnational identities.

“Many universities already have a graduate student recognition ceremony in place. It is important that the University at Albany recognizes the excellent work that is being done by our graduate students,” said Cornet.

The MCAA also has a human relations and social justice team.

“Next year the team hopes to go out into the community and deal with people of low socio-economic status, addressing issues of race, class, and gender,” said Cornet.

The GSO also wants to strengthen the honor of receiving an award from the organization. In January 2004, GSO Grants Chair Derek Asoh enforced stricter guidelines for IRB approval requirements, making the awards more competitive and prestigious.

Aside from the changes taking place within the GSO committees and administration, the managers of the GSO office have also tried to increase the resources available to students.

“We try to be attentive and helpful to students in the office and via e-mail whenever we can,” said Maria Diaz Montejo, GSO office manager.

Graduate students who visit the GSO office, located at CC 165B, will notice a cozier atmosphere. The chairs have been arranged around a coffee table and pictures have been hung on the once uninviting walls. During office hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) students can place local calls for free. Students also have free access to the fax machine, refrigerator, and coffee machine. GSO President Daniel Farr has implemented a copying system, granting free Xeroxing accessibility of up to 125 pages per week.

“All graduate students pay the graduate fee, which is included in tuition. They pay the fee. However, many of them are unaware of the services they are entitled to,” said GSO Assembly Speaker Sophia Browne.

During the April 29-30 GSO elections, graduate students voted to increase the student activity fee, which funds the programs and services offered by the GSO. The fee was increased from $15 to $20 for full-time students and from $2.15 to $10 for part-time students. There are no definite plans for how the extra money will be allocated as of yet.

“After conducting several investigations, it was found that even after the increase, UAlbany still maintains the lowest graduate student fee among the SUNY research universities,” said Gottlieb Jicha, GSO office manager.

“I am very proud of the organization and where we are heading. The GSO has done many things to enhance the experience for graduate students at the University at Albany. Faculty and staff could help by informing their graduate students of the resources available to them,” said Cornet.

For information about the GSO, visit the GSO Web site.