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The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) at Old Dominion has developed through two years of planning and startup activities to the point that it is poised to expand its influence on campus, according to the organization's new president.

"We are trying to solidify our existence," said Brittany Anderson, a doctoral student in human factors psychology who became GSO president early this year. "Building membership is a key goal."

Anderson said she hopes during the next few weeks to significantly increase the GSO membership, which is 30-40 currently. She urged any graduate student interested in the organization to attend a meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in Webb Center. (Check with the center's Information Desk for the room assignment.)

Planning for the organization began in 2006, led by Jon Young, a master's student in higher education who at the time was serving an internship in ODU's Office of Graduate Studies. Last year, the nascent organization elected Arsenio Escudero, a master's student in public administration, as its first president.

The current president said the GSO provides 1) opportunities for interdisciplinary interaction between graduate students, both socially and professionally, 2) a unified voice for the university's 6,000 graduate students and 3) help to the university in the recruitment of graduate students. She also said the new organization can serve as a hub connecting all of the smaller graduate student associations that already exist in individual departments and colleges.

A GSO survey is planned to determine what issues are most important to graduate students at ODU. Already, according to Anderson, the organization is committed to working on these issues, which were gleaned from informal discussions with students in several colleges:

*Getting affordable health insurance for graduate students.

*Increasing the number of campus housing units made available to graduate students.

*Helping to revamp the graduate teaching assistant training process and graduate orientation.

The GSO also is planning community outreach events and a graduate student reception and dinner, Anderson said.

Other current officers are vice president, Marc Milne, doctoral student in biology; secretary, Amanda Fox, master's student in exercise science and wellness; treasurer, Changmei "Maya" Zhang, a doctoral student in finance; public affairs officer, Gokhan Ozcan, a master's student in business administration; and liaison (with other graduate organizations), Hilary Begleiter, a master's student in English.

Lesa Clark, director, Multicultural Student Services, is adviser to the GSO. Other startup support has come from Philip Langlais, vice provost for graduate studies and research; Brenda Lewis, assistant vice president for graduate studies; and Worth Pickering, director of university assessment.

For more information about the organization, contact Anderson at bande012@odu.edu, or visit http://orgs.odu.edu/gso/.

This article was posted on: February 25, 2008

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