Letters, April 1991

For what cause, O man, chargest thou me thy daily complaint? - Boethius

April 1991; page 14; Volume 1, No. 4

To the editors of Polemicist:

On behalf of the council of graduate students, the COGS Steering Committee would like to respond to the Polemicist's chastisement of Victoria Moore in the December 1990 issue. While we are on the whole enthusiastic and supportive readers of the alternative paper, we were surprised and disappointed by the inaccuracies and unsupported allegations made in the editorial.

First, in reference to Moore's alleged opposition to graduate unionization, we are unaware of an initiative to unionize graduate employees. However, given Moore's past position on the union bargaining committee at the University of Michigan, and her current mandate to represent the expressed interests of her constituents, we believe she would actively support collective action on employment issues, as she and the COGS leadership have on other issues including premium-sharing, childcare, tuition increases, library cuts and anti-discrimination and diversity policies.

As for the Polemicist's inference that Moore advocated an SA split, the notion of a "split" was ostensibly taken from an erroneous Texan headline of its November 5, 1990 report on the National Association of Graduate and Professional Student's (NAGPS) Regional Conference which UT-Austin hosted November 2-4, 1990. The headline misrepresented the goals and agenda of the conference, in which participants from 6 states and 11 universities met to discuss not only graduate governance structures, but also issues of diversity in education, national and state legislative concerns, and the impact and improvement of childcare, housing, and health care policies regarding students of all sexual orientations. Conference participants shared their universities' strategies for proactively addressing these areas of concern.

Since none of the SA representatives attended the conference, we were shocked to read that one of those representatives characterized the conference session on student governments as a "crime against every student on the campus. "

Contrary to Texan and Polemicist reports, COGS recognizes that interests in common to all students are best served by the Student's Association. To our knowledge, no member of the Council has ever called for an SA split. Given that these two organizations with different constitutions and members already exist, we cannot even envision what such a split would entail. The current COGS members have merely tried to ascertain the constitutional relationship between the two groups.

When David Ritchie asked Moore and the Council to appoint him to the Student's Association in March 1990, we were under the impression that he would serve as a liaison between the two groups. After having had no contact with Representative Ritchie since this appointment, COGS members, especially those who organized the November NAGPS conference, were astounded to read that he felt discussions at this conference sabotaged student interests. After numerous attempts to contact Representative Ritchie directly, the COGS Steering Committee voted to publish an open letter as a last effort to contact him before the November COGS meeting. The Polemicist's claim that Moore engineered his removal as SA rep is inaccurate; the implication that the Steering Committee and the graduates representing 35 departments at the November meeting were so uninformed and easily swayed as to be merely a presidential rubber stamp is insulting.

Since this November COGS meeting, the Council, Eric Dixon, and Representatives Krueger, Ritchie, and Danziger have continued to communicate and to develop a positive and valuable working relationship which promises to benefit COGS and the SA.

We urge the Polemicist's editors to research this story as rigorously as they have previous stories; further, we encourage them to avoid chastising a president who has worked hard to understand and to act on the desires of a large and varied constituency, and instead to support graduate students' efforts to protect their interests as students, employees and members of the University community.

Susan Meigs
Chip Cariappa
and four others.

Henson responds:

Despite whatever position Moore held at the University of Michigan, the fact is that at the University of Texas she has been quoted at least twice in The Daily Texan opposing the unionization of graduate students. One of these articles was devoted almost solely to Moore attacking the idea of unionizing graduate student workers.

Similarly, it was not the headline of the Texan article that made us believe Moore supported splitting the Students' Association into two parts, but Moore' s statements to reporters in that article. If you have a problem with the perception that COGS supports such a lame and absurd proposal, don't blame The Daily Texan, blame your president who seems to have been born with a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease.

Moore's opportunism dates back to the beginning of her COGS presidency. The first time we heard or saw Moore was during the graduate students' struggle for health benefits, which contrary to her posturing, was organized almost solely by resigned COGS members who formed the Graduate Professional Association. Moore pontificated on the struggles of graduate students as if she had been fighting the good fight for years. She even met with administrators without consulting GPA, which had spearheaded the negotiations until that time. If we perceive her as a "power-monger," it's only based on observing her behavior over an extended period.

Polemicist would never intentionally alienate grad students, but we will never back off when an apologist like Moore pushes her own agenda over the best interests of students.