The University of Maryland Graduate Student Government plans to spend this academic year addressing several key issues graduate students face, including accommodations for post-doctoral classwork, stipends for graduate student workers, accommodations for graduate student parents and affordable housing.
The GSG passed a resolution Friday calling for the Maryland General Assembly to legalize collective bargaining for graduate workers in the University System of Maryland, marking yet another step in the organization’s fight for unionization. This issue, along with others like advocating for affordable graduate housing and accommodations for graduate student parents, have headlined the GSG’s list of priorities for several semesters.
“I really want to see unionization this year for the graduate students,” epidemiology doctoral student and GSG representative Nora Jameson said. “I think we are getting closer and closer every year.”
Autumn Perkey, the 2023-24 GSG president and a government and politics doctoral student, said the organization’s first priority this semester is to increase its recruiting effort.
The organization faces a high amount of staff turnover at the end of each year, she said, and it is important for the GSG to recruit a large staff representing as many departments across the university as possible.
“After that, it’s kind of laying the foundation of what’s important to people,” Perkey said. “It tends to not change much because graduate students tend to have the same issues year after year.”
Keegan Clements-Housser, the journalism studies doctoral program’s representative, said the GSG is currently running special elections to fill seats for departments with no representative, adding that the organization’s representative numbers are “pretty low.”
“There’s this kind of vicious cycle that happens where … people don’t run because they don’t feel like they’re being represented, because they don’t run,” Clements-Housser said. “So the more people we have, the more representation we have, the more weight GSG and student government in general has, the more we can accomplish.”
The GSG also plans to continue to work on creating templates for statements of mutual expectations and improving its relationship with university administration, according to Jillian Andres Rothschild, the body’s legislative affairs vice president.
Rothschild said the GSG plans to invite university administrators to speak to graduate students about current university initiatives so the two groups can partner on various efforts.
The relationship between the GSG and this university’s administration is a partnership, Rothschild said.
“We all care about graduate students,” Rothschild said. “Most people in university administration were once graduate students themselves. So I think reminding them of that, and reminding graduate students of that and yeah, trying to just be more collaborative.”
Rothschild said the GSG will continue to fight for graduate students, even if they don’t get involved with the organization.
“Even if you never think about GSG ever again after this moment, know that we’re fighting for you your entire time here,” she said.