Stephen Post, president of the Council of Graduate Students, and Libby Bauman, the vice president of CGS, will work hard to promote advocacy and representation in the 2019-20 school year. Credit: Courtesy of Stephen Post

Stipend increases, longer leave, affordable housing and mental health initiatives: The Council of Graduate Students — the elected governing body that represents over 11,000 Ohio State graduate students — wants to make that happen.

Stephen Post and Libby Bauman, CGS president and vice president, respectively, said they have plans for the 2019-20 school year centered around activism, advocacy, affordability and access.

“We’re both really excited about this year,” Post said. “[Graduate students] have been wanting and looking for some advocacy and more representation.” 

Advocacy and representation begin with increased protections, benefits and services for graduate students, Post said. 

Graduate associates at Ohio State receive a minimum stipend of $17,280 per nine-month period to help balance research and work. In the past seven years, the stipend has increased a total of $5,280, university spokesperson Ben Johnson said.

The 2019-20 school year will be the last in a three-year cycle that Ohio State graduate associates — graduate students who are paid apprentices in research, teaching or service activities at the university while pursuing a degree — will receive a $750 stipend increase, Post said. 

Post and Bauman said they hope to secure benefits such as  increased stipends as well as longer leave, child care and increased parental leave for graduate associates. 

“About one-third of graduate students have families,” Post said. “Right now the recommendation [for parental leave] is three weeks, and we’d like to see that at at least six weeks.”

In 2017, 18 percent of Buckeye Village’s family housing was demolished for construction of the Covelli Multi-Sport Arena, according to previous reporting by The Lantern. In the wake of Buckeye Village closures, Post, Bauman and CGS are looking for affordable and convenient housing alternatives for graduate students with families and spouses. 

The CGS Graduate Housing and Family Affairs Committee, which handles housing issues, is working with the Center for the Study of Student Life to assess the demand for graduate student and family graduate student housing, Post said. 

Post and Bauman also said they will address mental health issues that Ohio State graduate students and undergraduates may face in a collaborative effort with Undergraduate Student Government. 

“OSU has one of the largest counseling services,” Bauman said. “Yet they’re often swamped and they often can’t handle the need that students have.”

Though there are some counseling groups geared toward graduate students, there is little notification and many students do not know they exist, Bauman said.

Post and Bauman said they plan on increasing the marketing of mental health services to graduate students and pushing for “embedded counselors,” who would undertake counseling duties in each graduate program. 

“Graduate students feel that they haven’t had their voices heard and haven’t had enough resources,” Post said. “We’re going to do the best we can to advocate for them.”