On Feb. 19, the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) unanimously passed a resolution to support a University-wide Election Day holiday. GSGA also discussed potential inclusion of graduate programs in advocating for grants to fund unpaid internships and approved funding for an Emory International Coffee Hour.

Election Holiday

The legislature unanimously voted to support College Council (CC) Senior Legislator Justin Cohen’s (20C) Election Day resolution to create a University holiday canceling classes and other on-campus obligations that might prevent students from going to the polls on Election Day. CC passed Cohen’s legislation on Feb. 12, and the bill has already been supported by resolutions from Emory Student Government Association (SGA), Oxford SGA and BBA Council.

Unpaid Internship Funding

Legislators held a preliminary discussion to discuss whether graduate students should advocate for the funding of unpaid and underpaid student internships.

SGA passed a resolution to create a grant for funding unpaid internships on Feb. 10. Members of GSGA discussed the possibility of supporting the resolution and introduced language to cover work experiences, such as practicums and clinical rotations, that are specific to graduate and professional students.

GSGA President Cody Long (20L) said that while unpaid internships are a relevant issue to law students, that may not be the case for other programs.

“Our peers that go into summer associate positions probably make $40,000 in three months, but if you work for a federal agency or a state agency or the [American Civil Liberties Union], you get absolutely zero dollars,” Long said. “I do think it has relevance in some divisions, but it raises some questions for the medical school and [the Laney Graduate School] — people who don’t have traditional summers.”

GSGA Speaker Aisha Mahmood (18C, 20PH) likewise said that public health students who want to work in the nonprofit sector frequently have to take unpaid practicum opportunities.

“For students who want to do community work, oftentimes the organization you work for can’t afford to pay you,” she said.

The members voted unanimously to participate in the conversation, but further details will be discussed at the next meeting on Feb. 26 to provide the leadership of each graduate division adequate time to gauge students’ concerns about unpaid positions.

International Coffee Hour

Campus Minister Glenn Goldsmith presented a request for $500 from GSGA to provide funding to next month’s Emory International Coffee Hour, a weekly event that provides free lunch to international students and scholars. Various groups on campus typically take turns funding the event.

“There’s a lot going on around campus for undergraduate students to make them feel welcome and accepted on campus,” Goldsmith said. “But there’s less going on for graduate and professional students.”

GSGA unanimously approved the funding, which will match a contribution from the Laney Graduate School Council for a total of $1000. 

About 100 to 125 students attend each week, with a majority of attendees being graduate students. The event is tentatively scheduled for March 27 and will take place in Cannon Chapel.