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Monday, December 22, 2014

GPSA, SBA agree to disagree

Representatives from the Student Bar Association and GPSA met Friday in a last-ditch effort to reconcile the organizations’ differences.
However, the SBA, which represents UNM’s roughly 350 law students, is still planning to secede from the graduate student governing body, said GPSA Council Chair Danny Hernandez. The Board of Regents gets the final say on whether the law school secedes.

“I’m disappointed and sad,” Hernandez said. “The theme from the law school is that this is a ship that’s already sailed.”
The law students take with them about $8,500 in fees.

Corinne Hale, SBA president, said the law student governing body wanted to offer GPSA one more chance to play up the benefits of remaining with the organization.
“I think that the meeting, for me, was to make sure that if there were benefits we hadn’t heard of from the GPSA, that we were completely informed of what we would be missing out on,” she said.

Hernandez said GPSA has a lot to offer the law school despite their ideological differences.
“The law school’s going to miss us in terms of our diverse range of skills and cumulative voice,” he said.
However, Hernandez said the SBA did not intend to end all communication with GPSA.

“They didn’t want to break all ties,” Hernandez said. “They simply thought they could do a better job of governing themselves.”
Hernandez said he will also encourage the GPSA council to vote on legislation that perhaps will leave a better taste in the law students’ mouths.
“At the end of the meeting, I told them I would put together a resolution supporting their secession,” he said. “If that’s what they want
to do.”

Also, Hernandez offered a few seats to SBA members in the GPSA council as nonvoting members.
“Hopefully, we can be part of a graduate coalition,” he said.

Hale agreed that the SBA’s secession doesn’t have to mean cutting off all communication between the two bodies.
“I think that’s a really good idea,” she said. “Ultimately, what it would be is two student governments facilitating professional students. For us, this still has communication between the SBA and the GPSA as an important factor.”

Hernandez also said the law school representatives brought up a few differences between law students and the rest of the graduate population that could have been grounds for secession.

For one, he said, law students spend three years in law school, but graduate and professional
students may spend between five and six years earning Ph.D.s.
Hale said since law students only have three years, legislation must be passed sooner. In GPSA, she said, legislation directly affecting the law students could take years to be brought to a vote.

“By the time GPSA takes a vote, you’re probably already graduated,” she said.
Also, since law students are on north campus, it’s more difficult for them to cash in on printing fees, since the printer sits in the main campus GPSA office, Hale said.

“One of the things that GPSA told us is that we have these office hours and they’re open all the time, and we’ve implemented these facilities, one being a printer, to facilitate the lives of graduate students.”

However, law students rarely take advantage of the GPSA office hours.
Also, Hale said, the law students disagreed with the special election GPSA held relating to the Athletics Department, because they didn’t see how actions of Athletics affected them.

“That was just kind of one example over the past several years of GPSA’s goals not being really in line with the law students’ goals,” Hale said. “We would want more simple focus of student fees, student tuition — things that directly affect students right here and now.”