Representatives from the Stony Brook University Graduate Student Organization (GSO) were on Capitol Hill on October 3 along with other members of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) — a network of graduate student organizations at more than 50 universities that represents approximately 500,000 graduate and professional students nationwide. While in Washington, DC, students advocated for the interests and concerns of thousands of graduate students as they met with staff from the majority of the Long Island Congressional Delegation, including Congressman Lee Zeldin.
The representative from Stony Brook included Jinelle Wint, GSO Vice President; Luigi Pesce Ibarra, GSO Secretary; Shruti Sharma, GSO Productions Director and NAGPS Northeast Regional International Student Concerns Advocate; and Joseph Verardo, NAGPS National Vice President.
“Advocating for graduate education and science on the Hill was a remarkable experience,” said Jinelle WInt. “I feel as though the issues that I truly care about were heard and that my small part can make a difference for those individuals that I am advocating for.”
The major issues the students advocated for were:
- Open Access to Federally Funded Research: Fair Access to the Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) to lessen the cost on students, remove the cost barrier on businesses and universities accessing research, and lend transparency to research being funded by the government.
- Funding for the Sciences and Biomedical Research: An increase to the NIH and NSF budget to support the groundbreaking science research at Stony Brook, which is not be possible without NIH and NSF funding.
- Funding for the Social Sciences: Reinstatement of social science and political science funding through the NSF to address important issues facing the US.
- Higher Education in the Budget: Concern over cuts to Department of Energy, NIH funding, and the arts and humanities, and its effect on higher education.
- Domestic Renewal of F1 Visas: Renewal of F1 visas abroad is time consuming and negatively impacts the student, their labs and the US economy.
- Immigration Executive Order: Ask Congress to take action in reversing the President’s Executive Order on Immigration, and any future Executive Orders that restrict the travel, freedom of movement and the rights of members of our community.
- Graduate Student Loan Interest Rates: Reunification of loan rates for graduate and undergraduate students.
- Graduate Savings Act 2017: Adjusts IRS Code to allow graduate student employees to save money in IRAs.