This fall, the newest addition to the executive branch of the SGA is the office of graduate affairs, a body that will focus on handling the concerns of FAMU’s graduate student population.
The office was formed at the request of graduate students who sought to have a stronger voice in the development of student affairs and policies.
“We are open to the comments and suggestions of graduate students,” said SGA vice-president Virgil Miller. “We want them to feel that they are a part of SGA, and we are open to their concerns and the issues that effect them.”
The purpose of the office of Graduate Affairs is to incorporate graduate students into programs and opportunities that are open to the entire campus.
“Because graduate students often have afternoon and evening classes, they tend to be more excluded than undergraduates,” said Miller, a first-year public health graduate student. Phyllis Green, coordinator of administrative services in the office of graduate studies, works with graduate students daily and knows some of the frustrations and concerns they have. Previously their only outlet was the Graduate Student Association, created in 1997.
“Through the graduate student association president, they had a person they could talk to, but never had a voice in SGA,” Green said.
The office faces one major challenge in its efforts to improve the quality of graduate student life: it is not a constitutional part of the SGA.
However, Miller said this challenge would quickly be overcome.
“Larry (SGA president) and I plan to work to incorporate the office into a permanent position,” Miller said.
Alvin Benton, a 22-year-old graduate student from Atlanta plans to have a hand in shaping the laws and rules for the office.
“The framework is going to be the hardest part. It could take up to an entire year,” said Benton, who is also president of the Graduate Student Association.
Benton said the office will “handle the traditional and personal issues that graduate students face.”
Among the graduate students concerns are the 8.5 percent tuition increase, fees, tuition waivers and registration.
The office will also sponsor events like a “Wine and Cheese” mixer, and try to recruit more students into one of FAMU’s 53 graduate programs.
The first town hall meeting for the office of graduate affairs is Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. in the General Classroom Building.
Meredith Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.