Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience : Office of Student Life

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A Resolution Against the Plan to Return to Campus

Posted: August 24, 2020

This resolution strongly urges the university to further restrict congregate activities such as classroom learning and in-person meetings that would require students, staff, faculty, and other personnel to be physically present on campus, unless those in-person activities are absolutely necessary and have no online alternative. I hope you will all help me keep the health and safety of our graduate students front of mind and make proactive changes to ensure we reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Return to Campus & Racial Justice Updates

Posted: July 23, 2020

July 23, 2020

Dear Ohio State Graduate Students,

As you know, the university has announced plans to resume on-campus teaching and activities next month, in alignment with the start of the autumn 2020 semester. We recognize and understand there is high interest and concern about the safety, health, and wellbeing of our campus community as we prepare to transition back to campus in a few short weeks. As we embark on a new academic year, we wish to take this opportunity to welcome you all back to Ohio State, and thank each of you for your continued patience, commitment, creativity, innovation, and collective dedication to Ohio State during the past few months as we all adapted to unforeseen circumstances.

While this announcement is momentous, we recognize this decision has not been well received by everyone. Our efforts to fight for the needs of graduate students does not end with this [impending] return to campus. We are aware there are many unanswered questions still lingering and we are consistently working to gather answers for you and ensure that the graduate student voice is heard. CGS will continue to advocate and engage the extraordinary talents and resources of our university as we navigate this transition. We are thankful for the leadership and support of Dr. Melissa Shivers, Vice President for Student Life, and Dr. Alicia Bertone, Dean of the Graduate School during this time. And on August 24, we will graciously welcome Ohio State’s 16th President, Dr. Kristina Johnson to campus. We are excited to bring graduate education to the forefront of Ohio State in continued partnership with university leadership.

We wish to use this opportunity to share with you some updates and precautions for the new year. As we look ahead and pursue new ways to engage with our community and our research and take on the challenges facing our world today, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our campus community remains our highest priority. A successful autumn semester will require us all to work together to control the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the necessary practices and protocols that have been put in place. We recognize that this autumn will look and feel very different from prior semesters and we will all have to adjust to new ways of navigating campus under the restrictions prompted by the pandemic. In doing our part, CGS has moved all autumn 2020 meetings and activities to a virtual format.

Whether on-campus or not, every one of us needs to fully commit to protecting ourselves, our families, our friends, our colleagues, and our community as a whole. We all play a key role in managing the spread of COVID-19. Some strongly recommended actions include:

  • Self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Wearing face masks/coverings in public settings
  • Frequent hand washing (or use of hand-sanitizer when soap and water are not available)
  • Practicing social distancing at all times
  • Self-isolating if you suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Avoiding large gatherings of people

In addition to those safety practices, the university has announced additional plans to ensure a safe and clean campus such as enhanced cleaning protocols, furniture rearrangement, new building signage, and much more, to ensure all campus spaces and activities support the health, safety, and wellbeing of our campus community. More details are available on the Office of Student Life website and Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

Equity and Racial Justice Task Force & Ad Hoc Governance Review Committee
CGS has established two internal ad hoc committees to examine organizational operations. The Equity and Racial Justice Committee is tasked with investigating and reviewing current CGS and university procedures, policies, and practices in order to foster an equitable, diverse, and inclusive Ohio State community. The Governance Review Committee is tasked with reviewing and revising all CGS governance documents, procedures, policies, and practices to inspire transparency and increase CGS’ ability to effectively and efficiently advocate on behalf of all graduate students at Ohio State.

Engaged Scholar Grant
CGS has partnered with the Office of Outreach and Engagement and the Office of Student Life to establish a new grant program to support graduate students undertaking community-engaged research and/or projects addressing specific community needs or problems, in collaboration with a community partner. Graduate students may apply for grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

On behalf of CGS, we send our love and support to all of you and encourage you to take care of yourselves during these stressful times. This is an extraordinary moment in history, and it requires each of us to treat one another with the utmost respect, care, and compassion. Please remember, CGS continues to fiercely support and advocate for all Ohio State graduate students and know you can reach out to us at any time by email at cgs@osu.edu.


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Stay safe and #MaskUpBuckeyes,

DaVonti’ D. Haynes, MSW
Vice President, Council of Graduate Students
PhD student, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Sarah Light
Secretary, Council of Graduate Students
PhD candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program, College of Medicine

Jack Brandl
Chief of Staff, Council of Graduate Students
MSW student, College of Social Work

2020 Graduate Compensation and Benefits Committee Recommendations

Posted: July 22, 2020

2019-2020 Graduate Compensation and Benefits Committee (GCBC) Annual Report & Stipend Recommendations for 2020-2023

Duties and Responsibilities

The Graduate Associate Compensation and Benefits Committee (GCBC) is a standing committee of the University Senate at The Ohio State University as defined in the University Faculty Rules, Chapter 3335-5-48.18.

The following are the duties and responsibilities of the GCBC, as defined under Chapter 3335-5- 48.18. (B) of the University Faculty Rules.

  1. Study the adequacy and other attributes of the university's policies and provisions including stipends, outside professional services, and supplemental compensation.

  2. Conduct research and provide advice on economic support of graduate associates, professional development, quality and design of benefit programs, and appointment terms.

  3. Make recommendations to the university senate, the graduate council, the graduate school, and the office of academic affairs as appropriate.

Overview

The Graduate Compensation and Benefits Committee (GCBC) was quite active in addition to our annual stipend and benefits evaluation. We met multiple times formally and informally to discuss a variety of policy changes that we thought would provide more robust financial, institutional, and support for graduate students. This year, graduate, international, and parenting students made their voices heard for us to advocate for a new Multi-family housing facility. With the help of USG, IPC, Student Life, the ODI and many others, our members helped establish the Parenting and Pregnant Student Working Group to comprehensively look at the issues facing these students and begin to make a plan of how to provide more support. With the help of the Provost, Administration & Planning, Student Life, and Business & Finance, GCBC is committed to establishing an sponsor group to move forward with a new multifamily housing facility. As graduate students still need a central, independent resource for solving conflicts and giving guidance on resources, we are brought forward a proposal to institute a Graduate Ombudsperson. With that impetus, we are excited to continue our work with the Provost, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the University Staff Advisory Committee to establish an Office of Ombudspersons where such a position could be housed. With the help of the Graduate School, GCBC collaborated with the Graduate Council to establish a specific Graduate Student Emergency Fund so those students most in need can be supported. The remainder of this report will walk through the analysis, considerations, and recommendations for increasing the current minimum stipend and for taking other administrative actions that will benefit Graduate Associates throughout The Ohio State University.

New Family Housing Letter

Posted: July 15, 2020

New Family Housing Letter

Overview

The Parenting & Pregnant Students Support Committee (PPSSC) unites invested stakeholders to further develop a university-wide support system for parenting & pregnant students and their families throughout all facets of university life. The committee acknowledges that the ACCESS Collaborative is the primary program that provides support to this population, while recognizing the power in partnerships across the university and that all Buckeyes play a role in creating a supportive community. The PPSSC includes students, a representative from all three student governments, faculty, and staff with leadership from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Office of Institutional Equity, and the Office of Student Life. This letter provides historical background, student needs, benchmark data, and requested action from the committee for The Ohio State University to move forward with the planning of a multi-family student housing facility and how to further support this diverse population.

Parenting and Pregnant Students Support Committee (PPSSC) Members 2020-2021

Name

Title / Area / Involvement

Dr. Matthew Couch

Interim Associate Vice President for Student Life & Associate Dean of Students

Traci Lewis

Program Director, ACCESS Collaborative, Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Jillian Deas

GAA, ACCESS Collaborative; ACCESS Scholar; MA, Education Policy; President, Students with Children 

Molly Peirano

Director, Education and Engagement, Institutional Equity; PhD Candidate, Social Work

Gala Korniyenko

CGS Senator, COPE member, PhD Candidate in City and Regional Planning

Steph Charles

CGS; works with CCAMPIS grant; PhD Candidate, HESA

James Uanhoro

CGS, PhD Candidate

Charity Martin-King

Director of Social Change, Office of Student Life

Leila Vieira

CGS, Chair of Housing and Family Affairs Committee; Buckeye Village Parent

TJ Beavers

Inter-Professional Council (IPC)

Donald Fuzer

Director, Child Care Program

Rhonda Michelle

ACCESS Collaborative; Buckeye Village Resident; VP of Students with Children

Jamie Wood

Assistant Director, Athletics Compliance

Trina Thomas

IPC Senator; law student parent

Anna Wagner

Senior Coordinator of Leadership Programs, Student Activities, Office of Student Life

Maddie Carson

USG, Chair of the Undergraduate Caucus

Stephen Post

CGS, President

Erica Regan

Associate Director, Center for the Study of Student Life, Office of Student Life

Jeremy Gabis

Director, Facility Planning and Design, Office of Student Life

Background

The Ohio State University (OSU) established Buckeye Village in 1948 as the University’s first permanent housing and there were 400 units by 1961. University announced the closure of 50 units in Buckeye Village in 2015 to build the Covelli 15 Multi-Sport Arena at a cost of $49.7 million. The University initiated a series of listening sessions in 2016 that continued until 2017 to identify the housing priorities and preferences of Buckeye Village residents. The data gained from these sessions emphasized the need for a residential community of students with families, where rental rates are offered at below market level. In January 2017, the University put out a Request For Proposals for private developers to construct the replacement complex and offer rental rates at most 25 percent below the market rate of apartments within 10 miles of campus; A plan for the University to build a 450-unit replacement complex at $65 million failed to be seen as a financially viable solution[1]

In 2017, the University’s capital planning vision, Framework 2.0, called for the development of an Athletics District in the area surrounding and including Buckeye Village. In October 2019, it was announced that the Buckeye Village at The Ohio State University would be officially closing and all current Buckeye Village residents in 89 units to move out by the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. Due to student advocacy and the COVID-19 pandemic, Buckeye Village residents were granted an extension to stay until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. This decision however did not solve the issue of future family housing being provided by Ohio State. The Parenting and Pregnant Students Support Committee (PPSSC) was formed at the beginning of 2020 to examine gaps in support for these students and make recommendations on how to move forward with family housing at Ohio State.

Student Need & Supporting Data

The closure of OSU’s onlyfamily housing facility means pregnant and parenting students will have another barrier to focusing on their education. It creates the difficult decision between either living close to campus and spending more of an already stretched budget on rent and utilities, or living far from campus and spending a lot of time commuting and away from their children. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research[2], 15% of undergraduate students at four-year institutions have children. While there’s no official data available specifically for graduate students, in the CGS Demographic Report for the 2019-2020 academic year[3], 10% of the body claims to have children. A study[4]of doctoral students at the University of California found that about 13% of students become parents by the time they graduate.

In a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research[5], data shows that, “Student parents are more likely than students without children to be students of color: 51 percent compared with 46 percent of students without children. Looking across racial/ethnic backgrounds, Black college students are the most likely to be parents (33 percent), and Black women — two in five of whom are mothers — are more likely than women from other backgrounds to be raising children while in college.” As you know, there are many international students and families currently living at Buckeye Village. Their international status means that they are not eligible for federal financial aid, nor are they or their spouse allowed to seek employment elsewhere to supplement their income. These are underrepresented populations that the university must support.

Availability of family housing also impacts recruitment. Many present and past residents of Buckeye Village would not have chosen to attend OSU if subsidized housing hadn’t been available. A number of residents has also been approached by prospective students with questions about applying for family housing, only to regrettably tell them it is no longer a possibility at Ohio State. When comparing to other universities in the United States, including some Big 10 institutions, Ohio State will no longer be in the same group as universities that do offer family housing, such as University of California - Los Angeles (1,102 units for families), University of Florida (980), University of Illinois (1,041), University of Michigan (781), University of Minnesota (824), Penn State University (124), University of Washington (738), and University of Wisconsin (1,196)[6].

Requested Actions

For years Ohio State has kicked-the-can on finding a solution to the issue of family housing, now is the time for us to put forward a plan to support these deserving students. The Ohio State University prides itself on its many initiatives to ensure the academic success of all our students, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion by taking care of our most vulnerable populations. Therefore, we request the university take the following actions to make progress on providing affordable, family housing and supporting parenting and pregnant students:

  • Establish the Family Housing Facility Executive Sponsor Group with leadership including Dr. Melissa Shivers, Vice President of the Office of Student Life; Michael Papadakis, Chief Financial Officer in the Office of Business and Finance; and Jay Kasey, Senior Vice President of the Office of Administration and Planning
  • Ensure the continued communication among the Executive Sponsor Group and the Parenting and Pregnant Students Support Committee (PPSSC), the Office of Institutional Equity, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to incorporate knowledge and student needs.
  • Engage the Office of Government Affairs to look at options of making this development more affordable to students through the help of community partners.
  • Further support the work of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s ACCESS Collaborative including Scholar House, CCAMPIS, and other resources.[7]
  • Collect demographic data throughout this process to track the needs of these underrepresented students.

[1]https://cgs.osu.edu/posts/documents/res-1920-au-006-buckeye-village.pdf

[2]https://iwpr.org/publications/4-8-million-college-students-are-raising-children/

[3]https://cgs.osu.edu/posts/documents/demographic-report-3.pdf

[4]https://www.chronicle.com/article/Why-So-Few-Doctoral-Student/48872

[5]https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/C481_Parents-in-College-By-the-Numbers-Aspen-Ascend-and-IWPR.pdf

[6]https://cgs.osu.edu/posts/documents/res-1920-au-006-buckeye-village.pdf

[7]http://oma-test.org.ohio-state.edu/access/student-parent-resources/affordable-undergrad-student-parent-housing.html

Grad School Info on COVID-19 Match Funding and Time to Degree Extensions

Posted: June 15, 2020

The Graduate School would like to move forward to allocate the distribution of a limited number of semesters of tuition and fee waivers to Graduate Students whose degrees have been delayed due to COVID-19. The Graduate School also wishes to message that Graduate School Policy currently supports flexibility in the extension to degree. For Graduate Students that had planned to graduate in academic year 2020-21, flexibility in this petition request will also be considered for degrees delayed due to lack of access to curricular or research requirements for the degree. As is our usual process, these petitions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with a letter of justification, including relevance to COVID, evidence of support from the advisor and endorsement from the Graduate Studies Committee.

Letter to Graduate Students Regarding Racial Injustice

Posted: June 2, 2020

June 1, 2020

Dear Ohio State Graduate Students,

We are writing to you today to let you know that we do not simply “see you,”  but that we also hear, understand, and share your frustration, anger, disappointment, and pain. The past week has been a very trying time in the midst of what was already a difficult year and on the heels of a stressful and unexpected spring semester.    

Like many of you, we have been closely following the events in Minneapolis and in cities across the country, including right here in Columbus (on- and off-campus), in response to the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, John Crawford, Tyre King, Tamir Rice, Julis Tate Jr., Henry Green, Bettie Jones, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Philando Castile, Atatiana Jefferson, and Dominique Clayton. These are just some of those whose injustices were publicized and we can be sure there are countless others whose names we do not know.

Our hearts go out to each and every one of you –– along with your families, friends, and demonstrators across the nation –– feeling pain and agony over another senseless murder. During this time, please be sure to check in with your family, friends, and colleagues, especially those who are at-risk and/or in the Black community. Traumatic stressors and events like those of the past few days impact everyone, but some more than others.

The Ohio State University is not immune to what is occurring in Minneapolis, downtown Columbus, and cities across the nation. Our campus community consists of individuals from various identities, backgrounds, and cultures. We adamantly believe this should serve as a notice to university administrators that The Ohio State University has a moral obligation to ensure that our campus community, as well as the Central Ohio community, cultivate spaces where all Ohio State students and their experiences are respected, supported, and protected. 

Over the course of this past week, students have been asked by leaders of our university to reflect and engage in dialogue. While we recognize reflection and active dialogue are key pieces to addressing the inequalities we witness on a daily basis, we know that dialogue alone is not enough. There must be more advocacy, evaluation of policy, and cultural shifts taking place in tandem with these dialogues in order to effect long-term change. We will continue to push the Graduate School and university leaders to make Ohio State a more equitable and inclusive community. We need to address institutional racism, bigotry, implicit and explicit bias behaviors, policies, practices, and acts of prejudice that are rampant within our campus communities, Central Ohio, and across the nation –– which many of our students, faculty, and staff are forced to encounter on a daily basis.

Institutional equity, inclusion, and diversity can no longer be mere talking points –– they must be backed by action. We can no longer say we champion diversity while remaining silent on issues affecting so many within our community. We can no longer say we reaffirm diversity without outlining strategic initiatives, actions, and goals to combat these injustices at the institutional, local, state, national, and global levels.

We will not stop fighting until the voices, concerns, hardships, and experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff at Ohio State are prioritized by our institution’s leadership and real change is made.

As noted in our April 6th letter to you all, attending graduate school can be very demanding and we have all had to face the additional challenge of living through an unprecedented global pandemic. We recognize how trying the current environment may be as you manage academic responsibilities, research, work, and social lives, while also caring for your family and friends who may be impacted by this global health crisis. Processing yet another instance of racially-motivated violence at this time feels overwhelming. We recognize this challenge and we want to focus attention on our peers, faculty, staff, and loved ones who are feeling undervalued, underappreciated, and disrespected. Your experiences are informing our fight for true justice at our university and in our community.

As we all prepare to navigate the weeks ahead, we want to take a moment to stress the importance of taking care of yourself during these demanding and stressful times by prioritizing your mental, physical, and emotional health.

On behalf of the Council of Graduate Students, we send our love and support to all of you during what is surely a very difficult and emotionally exhausting time for all of us. This is an extraordinary moment in history, and it requires each of us to treat one another with the utmost respect, care, and compassion. Please remember, CGS fiercely supports and advocates for all Ohio State graduate students and we encourage you to reach out to us at any time by email at cgs@osu.edu.