Senate to address grad students’ concerns

Concerns about the treatment of graduate students arose at Monday’s senate meeting shortly before a bill to officially create a Department of Graduate Affairs was reviewed.

During the community forum, Malik Littles, 26, a graduate business administration student from West Palm Beach, stood up and voiced his opinion about the way Florida A&M University caters, or does not cater, to graduate students.

He said graduate students make up 12 percent of FAMU’s student population and 31 percent of the last graduating class. He mentioned various grievances he had about the treatment of graduate students.

Littles said many functions at FAMU, mainly financial aid and football ticket distributions, operate between the hours of nine-to-five.

These hours are inconviencing to a number of graduate students who work nine-to-five jobs, he said.

The graduate students’ biggest issue with the University and its relation to students, undergraduates and graduates alike, is the lack of offered health insurance.

Littles pointed out that Florida State University offers its graduate students health care, and he believes FAMU should do the same for all its students.

While he is also a member of the Graduate Student Association, Littles was confirmed as the secretary of graduate affairs a few weeks ago.

But he said he felt like he wasted his time, once he later learned that the Department of Graduate Affairs does not exist.

Many of the senators were attentive as Littles spoke, but Sen. Candice Elliott, 20, felt that the problem does not fall solely on the University. She also noted that some of his concerns could have been handled elsewhere.

“I fail to sympathize,” said Elliott, a junior political science student from Orlando. “If a student has a problem involving tickets, the (athletics department) can handle that.”

In response to Littles’ critique of how few graduate students are in the senate and other areas of Student Government Association, Elliott said SGA members have to “fight” to get graduate students to apply.

“It is my hope that the legislation approves the graduate affairs program,” Littles said outside the senate chambers after his turn at the community forum.

Sen. Antonio Wong, 19, a freshman pharmacy student from Tampa, later read the bill he wrote that would put the Department of Graduate Affairs in the constitution, but he was interrupted.

Wong and other members of the senate learned the previous Senate President, Ramon Alexander, passed the same bill last year.

“The bill was passed last year,” said Senate President Keon Hardemon, 22, a senior business administration student from Miami. “We’re having some problems retrieving it.” Hardemon and the rest of the senate agreed to table the bill until the next senate meeting Nov. 31.

By that time, if no one finds Alexander’s bill, Wong’s bill will go under review.

For now, Wong said he will visit the graduate department and see if they have any concerns or a copy of Alexander’s bill.

Wong, who said there was poor record keeping during the time Alexander’s bill was passed, acknowledged that many University functions are geared more toward the undergraduate students instead of the graduate students.

“From what I see, I would say SGA and OSUA (Office of Student Union Activities) do cater to the undergraduates,” Wong said. “All the events that I see usually attract the undergraduate class, not the graduates.”

Contact Brandon D. Oliver at