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Graduate Students Compare Notes at National Meeting

By Austin Frakt

Graduate Student Council President Constantine A. Morfopolous G joined other graduate student leaders from across the nation at the 11th annual conference for the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students in Santa Monica, Calif. from Oct. 24 to 27.

A record number of 80 universities were represented at the conference, with about 150 individuals participating. The NAGPS has 137 member graduate student associations representing about 750,000 graduate and professional students.

"The MIT GSC has attended the past three conferences including this year's. In the future I anticipate our participation to continue and to grow, especially since the 1998 conference is in Boston," Morfopolous said.

At the conference, graduate leaders compared notes on their respective institutions and graduate organizations. "MIT's GSC is held in high regard by our peers at other institutions, particularly for our graduate orientation, which we do without administrative financial support, and also for the successful organization of our recent career fair," Morfopolous said.

Seminars on a variety of issues that impact graduate and professional students or graduate student associations were also offered at the conference. This year's conference included seminars in leadership training, networking, strategies for graduate and undergraduate collaboration, securing benefits for graduate student employees, and the future of financial aid.

"One day was devoted to post-graduate employment, which was very interesting. The results of a survey were presented by the dean of the graduate school of the University of California at Berkeley revealing some of the shifts in graduate student employment across different disciplines from academia to industry and vice versa," Morfopolous said.

The NAGPS deals with student issues like financial aid, graduate student employment, health insurance, international student affairs, and income tax. The positions adopted at this year's conference include:

Strong opposition to California's Proposition 209, a referendum to eliminate all affirmative action programs in the state, including those that specifically benefit graduate and professional students. The proposition was passed by California voters on Tuesday.

A call to graduate schools to implement policies designed to recruit and retain graduate students from diverse populations.

A vote to pursue the creation of an international graduate student association in cooperation with existing groups in other nations.

Support of a National Day of Action in February designed to draw attention to the right of graduate student employees to collectively bargain.

Confirmation that the first week of April will be the Fourth Annual Graduate/Professional Appreciation Week.

The NAGPS is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of graduate and professional student life in the United States. Its goal is to bring graduate and professional students together to assist them in self-governance and to represent their interests to the public, state governments, and the federal government.

The NAGPS is probably best known to the MIT community for collecting and disseminating information - much of it by e-mail - regarding the congressional proposals to cut student financial aid made just after the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. Most of the proposals were ultimately defeated.