Intermediate Form

GSO Fee Referendum

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The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) is an organization intended to represent Stony Brook graduate students. A recent debate on campus is whether the Graduate Activity Fee, which is assessed to Grad students, should be voluntary or mandatory. This is in response to a student referendum that forced that issue to a vote.

I'm still formulating my opinion on this issue. While I can see a purpose for a student government, I think that the GSO may be overstepping its purpose in funding a range of organizations that have little to nothing to do with graduate life, and may in fact harm it.

That being said, my real complaint is in the way that the message above was distributed. It was sent via email to every graduate student. This is a privilege that is reserved for the GSO, and is unlikely to be available to someone with an opposing point of view.

The GSO executive board's use of the GSO's privilege to advocate a single position is an abuse of power. The GSO has not taken a position on this issue, as the referendum has not been held, and enough students opposed the government to force a referendum to be held. While the executive members have every right to express their opinion (as they have in the message board and in the paper, both of which serve as public forum), they should not presume to use GSO resources to do so, as the organization is still divided.

This is the same principle that says an incumbent should not government resources to run for reelection, and it's a good principle that should be respected by the GSO's leaders. At the very least, the proponents of the measure to make the activity funding voluntary should have the same ability to make their case that it's opponents do.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-04-18 15:27

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Posted on Friday, April 18, 2003 by Anne:

Actually anyone can send a message to all through notes accounts. So it's not in who can do it but in knowing it how to do it. In this sense GSO is just fighting for its existance which is usually considered an understandable cause promted by the malicious few who are too selfish to share a very small proportion of their income with their fellow students.

Posted on Friday, April 18, 2003 by Tom:

That everyone is able to send mail to all grad students mutes my criticism somewhat, as it means that all sides are able to fairly campaign. Both sides should know about this, however.

I think that it's not the purpose of the GSO to "fight for its existence". If it exists to represent students, it should react to student opinion, not try to lead it. (Individual members can do that, but not the organization as a whole.) If it doesn't exist to represent students, then it should not exist at all.

Posted on Friday, May 02, 2003 by Chris:


I want a dollar from you. What, are you too selfish to share a tiny bit of your income with a fellow human being? It can't possibly be because you have uses for your own money and there's no reason to believe that my uses for your money are better, so why are you so morally deficient?

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