When I first arrived here as a graduate student about four years ago, I spent the first two years adjusting to my new life and submerged myself in the graduate student way of life-which meant I spent most of my time shuttling between my house, classes and the library.
It wasn’t until much later that I discovered the University of Miami had another population, an undergraduate population, and host of student groups that offered a slew of celebrations, parties, and cultural events. While I blame myself a little for taking that long to find out, I blame the system much more.
The administration tends to segregate the undergraduate and graduate students. Apparently, the official position is that grads and undergrads don’t mix-or that they shouldn’t. On-campus activities seem to be tailored for each individual population-and primarily the undergraduate population-not for the student population as a whole. Grad students aren’t even expected (or shouldn’t, it seems) to participate in Homecoming, International Week, or be on the executive boards of UM student organizations, experiences that not only enrich our college life but create a sense of community.
No matter how many student organizations I’m part of, I’ll never have a say on how the university treats my organization. Grad students don’t have a say in the direction of the school paper because our activity fee doesn’t fund it. Yet, we read it.
It may be because graduate students, which total about 3,055 (20 percent of the student body), pay about $50 less of the so-called university fee, which is the quota that funds the movie screenings, student groups, festivals, and other activities. But it may be time, then, to rethink this policy.
Some may argue that graduate students lead different lives, that we are indifferent to what goes on here and that we are too busy to get involved. This may be true, but much of the apathy is fostered by the university’s disregard for our participation on this campus. We too belong to student groups and contribute to the activities that they offer, and are affected by the decisions that are made within these groups. We too should have a more active role, if we ever want to feel part of them.
Maybe it’s time for the student governments on campus to realize that we can work better by interacting more, no matter at what level. And, with student government elections here, this might be just the time for it.
Daniel Paskin is a doctoral student in the School of International Studies.