How does all of this work?
First and foremost
The GSA operates in accordance with the Governing Documents.
The Graduate Senate is built from elected graduate students representing the academic as well as cultural diversity at UMBC. Four senators come from each college (COEIT, CNMS, CAHSS) and another four senators come from the graduate student population at-large. The Graduate Senate has overarching control of the organization, exerted during Official Meetings of the Graduate Senate. Between these meetings, the elected members of the graduate student body constituting the Executive Council (EC) are given the authority by the GSA Governing Documents to make decisions on behalf of the Graduate Senate. These members are (click to see a description of responsibilities and current contact information):
- Vice President
- All Standing Committee Chairs
The Office of Graduate Student Life (OGSL) is built from three Graduate Assistants that work for The Graduate School to aid in carrying out the mission of the GSA as laid out in the GSA governing documents. To be clear, the OGSL works to execute the policies and procedures the Graduate Senate lays out. Although the overall goals of the OGSL are driven by the Graduate Senate in this way, the day-to-day operations are overseen by staff from The Graduate School. Namely, an Executive Administrative Assistant (EAA) of the Associate Dean of The Graduate School is placed in the OGSL to assist with logistics concerning personnel and PeopleSoft (or other administrative software) finances.
The GSA is built from both of these groups and led by the Executive Council.
GSA Funds come from student fees. All graduate students that have programs on-campus pay the Graduate Program Fee. As of the 2018-2019 Academic Year, this fee is assessed from each graduate student as $17 per credit hour. These funds are delivered to The Graduate School at UMBC, who gives authority of the funds to the Graduate Senate. Per the GSA Bylaws, it is the responsibility of the GSA Executive Council to develop and present a budget to the Graduate Senate for approval each year.
Graduate Student Organizations are the entities that the GSA assumes form a representative sample of the various groupings of students on campus. GSOs may be formed around a grouping of students by program or around a grouping of students based on any cultural/hobby/professional groups. Basically, GSOs are graduate student clubs! But participation is not limited to just graduate students. The GSA may ask GSOs for their input on a variety of issues, particularly issues that concern social or cultural interests.
Overview of GSA Initiatives
GSA Grants Initiative
The current GSA Grants Initiative started in April 2018. The Grants Initiative works with funds allocated to it by the GSA Budget each year. Based on the funding level, those graduate students who apply for a grant may be awarded one. Due to the nature of the GSA funds, a grant is awarded in the form of a promise to the awardee by the GSA that the GSA will reimburse expenses associated with Professional Development or Research up to a certain amount and according to state and university policies. The selection of the grant awardees is done monthly by the Grants Review Panel (GRP). The GRP is built from students who apply to represent the academic interests across campus and is led, ex-officio, by the GSA Treasurer.
Prior to this current system, all graduate students were told they would be guaranteed a grant if they applied on time. As UMBC grew, this mode of grant awarding became unsustainable. This instability culminated in the summer of 2017 when the GSA racked up $20,000 of promised funds that the GSA Budget could not abide. This incited a Grants Committee that reviewed the old system and proposed the system presented above.
GSA GSO Funding Initiative
The current GSA GSO Funding Initiative started in 2017. The GSO Funding Initiative works with funds allocated to it by the GSA Budget each year. Based on the funding level, graduate student organizations (GSOs) can purchase food or other state and university approved items for consumption or use in association with a GSO event. All funds must be approved by a GA in the OGSL prior to any purchases made. Any requests for over $250 must be approved by the Graduate Senate or a designee. The GA in the OGSL primarily responsible for this initiative is the Community Liaison.