Students gain voting rights in Graduate School governance

Tiffany St. Bernard and Anna Waymack
Chris Kitchen
Doctoral students Tiffany St. Bernard and Anna Waymack are the current student members of the Graduate School's General Committee.

Graduate students serving on the General Committee of the Graduate School now have full voting privileges on legislation and policy, the Graduate School has announced.

Student members are elected to the General Committee for a two-year term by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. The members for 2015-16 are Tiffany St. Bernard, a third-year doctoral student in the field of biomedical engineering, and Anna Waymack, a third-year doctoral student in the field of medieval studies.

The change was approved at the May meeting of the General Committee, the administrative, legislative and judicial branch of the Graduate School. Its functions include providing policy guidance, establishing graduate admissions and fellowship policies, recommending stipend levels, recommending and approving additions and changes to graduate degree programs, and approving revisions to the Code of Legislation.

The General Committee’s vote to extend voting privileges to its graduate student members “reflects the Graduate School’s commitment to shared governance,” said Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School Barbara A. Knuth. “Cornell is pleased to take a leadership role among our peer institutions, most of whom do not grant a vote to students in their governing body.”

The General Committee has 16 or more members, including two graduate students each serving for two-year terms ending in alternate years; faculty from each of four disciplinary areas (arts and humanities, life sciences, social sciences, and physical sciences and engineering); four faculty representatives-at-large; and, as ex officio members, the Graduate School dean and associate deans.

Cornell has a history of encouraging student participation and transparency in university governance. On the Cornell Board of Trustees, students elected by their peers to serve as student trustees also have full voting privileges.