Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Graduate News

Student Government to provide additional funding for Graduate Groups

Boca’s Graduate Grants Committee got a financial reprieve last Thursday when the Boca Raton Student Senate voted to give it an extra $5,500. The GGC recently ran out of funds after an unprecedented increase in applications.

To make matters worse the Agency for Graduate Concerns has also run out of funding for Boca Grads. In the past the GGC has been able to award grants on a first-come, first-served basis since requests for money had never outstripped the agency’s financial resources.

This year, with a substantial increase in requests, GGC found itself running low on funds halfway through the fiscal year. Funding ran out around spring break, at which point Lorinda Wood, GGC‘s chair put in a request to the Boca Raton Student Government Senate for additional funds. She was told by the campus governor and senate speaker that there would be no more money available until after spring break. The vote to provide GGC with additional funds finally passed on Thursday 27th March.

To their credit, the members of the Boca Senate voted unanimously to provide the GGC with extra money, handing over a third of their money to the agency. Over two dozen grads showed up to support GGC at the senate meeting, and a number spoke in support of its request.

This would be great news for GGC if the requests for funding that were currently waiting to be processed weren’t double the amount the senate offered. This may mean a crisis for the Boca GGC and a need for it to revise the way it offers grants to grads.

Up until now GGC has provided grants on a first-come first-served basis, students requesting money for attending conferences and workshops, presenting at conferences, even funds for research expenses that departments were unwilling or unable to provide – all were given funding.

Things may be set to change though – GGC faces some tough decisions both in terms of how they fund and who they fund. Previous recipients have included rich and poor alike, students have applied to go to attend conferences in Hawaii and Europe, to purchase computer equipment, to present their work at conferences in Florida and the US and a multitude of other requests.

GGC currently hasn’t take into account things like financial need, or the relative merits of different requests. In the past the Committee has been reluctant to refuse funding for any legitimate request, but this may have to change, and soon.

Budget 2002

Boca’s grads seem faced with lean times if the recent Senate budget meeting was anything to go by. The Boca Senate spent 13 hours deliberating on its allocations for clubs and agencies for the 2002-03 fiscal year. Boca’s GGC got only $58,000 – a 10% increase on this financial year, but it probably will not suffice if this year’s applications are anything to go by.

Boca Budget Mayhem

This year’s Boca Senate budget procedure was a shambles. Boca’s Graduate Student Association and Graduate Grants Committee were asked to meet with the Senate Budget Committee (SBC). The senators on the budgetary committee turned up thirty minutes late to the meeting, and even then only 3 of them were present, which was not enough for them to officially consider the graduates’ requests.

The negligence of the committee continued, when the $2.7 million budget they presented to the Boca Senate turned out to contain only totals for each agency and club, with no breakdown of the figures. At 5:30 p.m., an hour into the budget meeting the committee was frantically reworking the budget in the senate office to include line items (detailed breakdowns of each request).

At this time in the senate chambers, clubs and agencies were presenting their requests to the senate. The resultant 13 hour senate meeting was testament to the senate’s endurance and their dedication. It is a shame that their endurance was not matched by their budget committee’s technical ability – the meeting concluded at around 5:30am.

This confused state of affairs might partly explain why Boca’s Graduate Grants Committee was only awarded a 10% increase, despite asking for over 20%. Lorinda Wood, GGC‘s chair was asked to make suggestions at the senate meeting. Unfortunately, though she did suggest that the senate increase the amount of grants awarded, her main efforts seemed to focus on making sure the senate did not cut her salary.

Despite the large amount of graduate support at the meeting, and the senate’s apparent willingness to provide funding, Boca’s graduate grants got far too little, far too late. One senator, Robert Stone, seemed very keen to attach seemingly arbitrary limits on the number of applications grads could make each year, despite the GGC having written procedures on the matter.

Stone seemed concerned with the GGC awarding too much money to individual applicants, but instead of asking GGC‘s chair what those limits were (or doing his homework and looking up the amounts on GGC‘s website), he tried to push through a barrage of amendments limiting the number of grants awarded per year per applicant, the dollar amount of each award etc.

Fortunately, the majority of senators (such as Michael Moore), showed greater wisdom than Stone, and the senate refused to pass most of Stone’s amendments. The net result Stone’s amendments to the GGC‘s request, was that the senate fixed the maximum grant award to $1250 per application: Ironically this was $250 more than the GGC currently allow. Finally, GGC‘s request was approved at $58,000 for the coming year.

GGC’s Chair Speaks Out

The following Saturday (March 30th) GGC‘s chair, Lorinda Wood reflected on the senate budget: “Realistically I don’t think we could have got an increase that would handle the amounts” she said. Wood regarded the funding increase (from $52,500 this year to $58,000 next year) as a good one. Given that GGC (with 3 months remaining of the budget) now has requests totaling more than that, this seems a strange assertion.

I asked Wood if the amounts being awarded were too high. “The amounts aren’t too high, but I’d rather GGC fund many students for less, rather than fewer for more”. The current amounts listed under GGC‘s rules were “ok with 50 applications but now we have 118”.

Wood believes that the amounts that GGC awards need to change, and the differences in awards between presenting and attending conferences also need to change. “It doesn’t cost that much more to present at a conference than to attend” she noted, “There should be a difference in the amounts, but the current size difference is not warranted because the receipts that the GGC chair processes aren’t so different”.

I then asked what was the purpose of GGC‘s voting committee, given that everyone who applies seems to be funded. Wood reflected on this. “We do need to be more critical…More applications mean that if things stay the same, GGC will run out of money. GGC is meant to be supplementary – decreases will not hurt students since they’re meant to pay some of the costs themselves”.

Wood went on to say that “the committee is hesitant to change amounts and procedures”. She also noted that the GGC is also reluctant to take into account other factors, such as students fulfilling their volunteer hour requirement for funding. Currently GGC applicants are asked to assist with graduate events and service for graduate students on campus when they receive a grant. From Wood’s remarks it seems that this is not seriously considered when students who’ve already applied for funds make a second application. Of course, these changes will depend on a vote by the committee itself. “To avoid problems next year we need to change things” she says. “It will take a committee who are willing to stand behind what they say – we’re not going to be able to please everyone”. It looks like Boca’s GGC is going to be faced with some tough decisions in the months to come.

Hats off to Margaret Miller

If Boca’s graduate students are more aware of the availability of grants on their campus, then much of the credit goes to its improved advertising on campus. If you’ve noticed more flyers advertising grants on campus – you can thank Margaret Miller, a Boca graduate student who has been working hard to make sure word gets out about graduate grants.

An unpaid volunteer, Miller has been working tirelessly to promote grants for grads by posting flyers all over the place. This continuous committed advertising, along with word of mouth and regular emails has contributed to the doubling of grant applications this year.

GGC‘s chair Lorinda Wood is extremely thankful for Miller’s help, attributing the increase in applications to the increase in flyers. Not only does Miller post flyers all over campus but she also attends Boca Senate and Inter-Club council meetings as well as coming to GSA and GGC meetings. With a few more volunteers with even half her dedication, Boca’s grads would probably be running the campus by now.

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