Quality Of Life
Since our inception in 1936, UCLA GSA has always strived to improve the quality of life for graduate and professional students. Two area that the officers have focused their attention and efforts this year have been with the Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan and the Bruin Graduate Student Center.
Over the summer, the UC Office of the President and Board of Regents put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a systemwide GSHIP policy that all campuses would buy into. From the get go, back in October the UCLA Graduate Students Association opposed the forced changes in health insurance coverage because it would compromise the premiums and coverage of our existing plans. Currently, the UC has eleven separate insurance plans for its 55,000 graduate and professional students. There is a large variance in student health insurance costs from campus to campus. The range of current 2008-2009 costs is from $1338-$2518 (88% difference), with UCLA graduate students paying $1,564 per year.
The purpose of this policy initiative was a supposed $4M-$5M total in savings across the 11 campuses. After detailed reviews of external consultants’ reports and meetings with UCLA GSHIP representatives, the GSA believes that support of a system-wide GSHIP plan will lead to increased costs and decreased benefits for UCLA graduate and professional students. UCLA's GSHIP provides the most progressive dependent care, mental health services, extended gap care and pharmacy benefits of any plan in place. Loss of these services will have a tangible impact on graduate and professional students' ability to complete their research and degree programs. Furthermore, all of the proposed savings mentioned above would go to the smaller southern campuses, and UCLA would be subsidizing these savings.
The UC Board of Regents solicited feedback from each campus by implementing campus-wide scoring teams to analyze the viability of interested insurance providers’ RFP’s.
Earlier this quarter due to GSA’a active participation on the UCLA scoring team, UCLA Chancellor Block chose not to commit to moving forward with the GSHIP process for the last two phases of cost validation and implementation. UCLA EVC Scott Waugh, has also not signed the letter of commitment requested by UC Office of the President. UCLA has expressed a desire to continue participating in the workgroup meetings, particularly through the cost validation phase. However, we have conveyed that UCLA may not participate in the system-wide plan should a careful, comprehensive analysis demonstrate that UCLA will not benefit from the product benefits and product pricing.
The UCLA Graduate Students Association (GSA) is continuing its successful efforts to ensure the highest quality and most cost effective healthcare for its constituents.
Bruin Graduate Student Center
Recognizing that graduate study is both intellectually challenging and often social isolating, UCLA GSA put together a proposal for a new Graduate Center. There is often little if any opportunities to engage with others outside of existing departmental subgroup divisions. In an effort to combat social isolation and negative effects on retention and completion, the proposed campus-wide officially recognized, Bruin Graduate Student Center will be a hub for housing major graduate student related programs, events, and collaborative services and opportunities. The Center will provide a centralized headquarters for a unified graduate student community encouraging multi-disciplinary interaction and relationships, create a connection to the greater UCLA community, and create and active and healthy environment for graduate students.
Last week, on Wednesday, February 3, 2010, GSA President Jamal Madni and Internal Vice President Ryan Roberts were informed that after getting endorsements from Graduate Dean Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Bob Naples, Director of Cultural and Recreational Affairs Mick Deluca and the full support from Chancellor Gene D. Block, the university had accepted GSA’s proposal for 5,000+ sq feet inside the Kinross Building and additional outdoor patio area to house this new center—the first of its kind at any university West of the Mississippi!
The goal of the Bruin Graduate Student Center will be to provide a casual haven from a chaotic life for grad students to relax, interact and network. The Center’s focus on sustainability, robust technology, quality food, and state of the art recreation ensures that the center is a prime destination for graduate
students from across campus. Based on focus group feedback, we believe that the center should be comprised of Lounge area, gaming, television, living-room style furniture (i.e. sofas, lounge chairs, etc.) that could be easily moved, and a satellite recreation and fitness center.
[insert link to the final draft of the proposal here]