In 1989, the Princeton Graduate Student Union was created through a referendum among all graduate students to provide a unifying voice to express graduate student concerns to the Princeton administration. The GSU organization set the precedent for the representative system currently in use. Every graduate department, academic program and recognized graduate student group is represented in the Assembly by a student representative. The GSU also became a sponsor of social events geared towards graduate students. Over two-thirds of the budget from student fees goes directly towards subsidizing special events for students, ranging from film series and information sessions to holiday parties and summer barbecues.
In October of 1999, the GSU changed its name to become the Graduate Student Government. This change highlighted the organization’s representative character and growingly active role in shaping University policy through appointments to University decision-making bodies. In November of 1999, the U-Council amended its charter to allow graduate students, through the GSG Assembly, the right to elect their own representatives to the Council, and members of the Council’s Executive Committee. The GSG Assembly also acquired the right to make nominations for the other committees of the U-Council, including the Priorities Committee, which makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees each January on the allocation of the University’s operating budget, and the Rights and Rules Committee, which sets codes of conduct for the University and its students, faculty, and administration. In October of 2000, the graduate student body ratified a new GSG Constitution, adding for the first time a set of by-laws to grant the GSG the flexibility to fully embrace these new responsibilities and actively respond to future ones.
Past Accomplishments of the GSG
- Campus Directory: Prior to 1992, only undergraduates, faculty, and staff were listed in the Campus Directory. The GSG successfully lobbied for the inclusion of graduate students.
- Dental Coverage: The GSG negotiated and offered a dental plan to graduate students and their families. Following several years of lobbying by the GSG, the University has taken over administration of optional dental plans for graduate students and now offers some basic free dental coverage as well.
- Season Passes: The GSG has acted to allow grad students to obtain discount season passes for Princeton athletic events. To obtain a pass, contact the ticket office in Jadwin at 258-3538. Passes are $25 and are available to graduate students and their spouses.
- AI Handbook: The GSG helped create the AI Handbook which informs student instructors on what to expect from teaching responsibilities at Princeton. The handbook is a publication of the University.
- Extension of Housing Benefits: The GSG worked to allow post-enrolled graduate students to sublet university housing when it was available. A surcharge was originally applied, but further lobbying led to the abolition of the surcharge in 2002.
- Credit Union Membership: The GSG has succeeded in opening up membership in the Princeton University Credit Union to graduate students.
- DCE Status: Lobbying by the GSG led the University to create the new DCE status (starting Fall 2002) for students in their first year of post-enrollment. These students can now get ID cards, get full library access, enter the Housing Draws, park on campus, purchase athletics access at the staff rate, etc.