Organized in 1968, the University of Iowa Graduate Student Senate (GSS) serves as the “voice” of graduate students to the university administration, faculty, university organizations and within the Iowa City community.
The GSS assists in the administration of resources designated for graduate students, and works to establish and maintain programs and activities of interest to graduate
The GSS provides travel funding assistance to graduate students who present their research at conferences, meetings, symposia and similar professional or academic gatherings. The funds are provided by the Graduate College and allocated by the Travel Funds Committee through a competitive application process. GSS Travel Funds are awarded for travel to both domestic and international conferences.
The GSS has held the James F. Jakobsen Graduate Conference since 1998. The conference is a local event for UI graduate students to present their research and graduate work.
For graduate student senators at The University of Iowa, the concepts of being social and providing service are synonymous with each other.
Through the Graduate Student Senate Service Committee, graduate students develop a social component of their interdisciplinary life outside their research/scholarly realm. They have participated in such events as the Light the Night Walk and Chili Dog Fair and offer services to the Johnson County Crisis Center, Iowa City Animal Shelter and Coralville Children’s Museum.
“Isolation of graduate students is a problem. It’s good for your academics, but you need a social component,” GSS Senator Tim Paschkewitz said. “A lot of students get social and service all wrapped up into one. The desire comes from wanting to live a more interdisciplinary life, and not just academically speaking.
During the 2009-10 academic year, GSS collected $275 and 232 pounds of non-perishable food items for the Johnson County Crisis Center during its annual Wiffleball Tournament. Senators also bused tables at the Domestic Violence Intervention Program’s Souperbowl fundraiser and raised over $700 in the Project Holiday Challenge.
Kristina Rogers, the 2009-10 GSS president, was particularly impressed with the Restaurant Week fundraiser that benefitted UNICEF’s Haiti earthquake relief effort while also supporting local businesses.
“Not only did we reach out to graduate students, but we involved the community,” Rogers said. “All the donations from the restaurants were given to UNICEF, and we raised about $1,500. The event was very successful, and in addition to supporting Haiti, we were supporting local businesses.”