The original Graduate Student Advisory Committee, now Graduate Student Association at Western Michigan University, was established on Feb. 11, 1969, by nine graduate students selected from graduate programs in mathematics, sociology, education, science education, chemistry, librarianship and applied sciences. They were appointed by the dean of the Graduate College at the time. The purpose of that Committee was to serve as a source of information for graduate students regarding administration and, conversely, as a source of feedback to the Graduate College regarding policies affecting graduate students. From 1970 through 1972, the Committee functioned at the University level with support from several departmental graduate committees. The first year, the Committee worked well. Nevertheless, in the second year, its members graduated at various times. This event finally left the Committee as a sole member one. It was clear then that the Committee needed a more functional structure.
In the 1972-73 academic year, an ad hoc committee was formed to examine the issue of graduate student representation here at Western. In April 1973, that committee recommended to the Graduate Studies Council the re-establishment of a Graduate Student Advisory Committee.
Formally, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee was a standing committee of the Graduate Studies Council appointed by the dean of the Graduate College. In practice, the members were selected by the acting committee chair of that Council. The chair received recommendations from several graduate programs as well as departmental and college-wide graduate student organizations. The Vice-President for student services and the associate Dean of the Graduate College also serve on the Committee.
In 1973, the Graduate Studies Council charged the Graduate Student Advisory Committee with the following mandates:
Periodically review services and needs of graduate students.
Make recommendations to appropriate officials and offices.
Recommend graduate students for appointments to University councils and committees.
Serve as a liaison between departmental graduate student organizations, the Graduate Studies Council, and the Dean of the Graduate College.
The newly reappointed Committee sought to establish its own identity as a graduate student organization in addition to performing the above mandates. It helped to improve services for graduate students in the areas of the library, placement, parking, news for graduate students, and the scheduling of graduate courses during the spring and summer sessions. The Committee was committed to continuing efforts to enhance the academic experience of the graduate student body in this University.
In March 1974, the Associated Student Government, upon the Committee's request, adopted a bylaw to its constitution delegating to the Committee the responsibility for graduate student affairs and appointments to Faculty Councils and Administration committees. As a result, the Committee gained autonomy in representing and managing graduate student affairs.
The Graduate Student Advisory Committee of 1974-75 continually sought to improve services provided for graduate students. It recommended the administration to re-examine the overall service needs of part-time and commuter students and to develop specific objectives and criteria to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the University administration in what respects to graduate education. It surveyed library services at WMU, as well as at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, and recommended that the libraries assign lockers and carrels to graduate students actively engaged in research, and to conduct regular library orientations to familiarize graduate students with library services and staff. It requested that the Western Herald cover more graduate student news. This generation of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee also sought more representation of graduate students on councils and committees.
The Graduate Student Association at Western Michigan University is currently as active as ever. It offers services such as university orientations for incoming graduate students, professional development workshops for those on the verge of graduation. Nowadays, as state budgets for higher education are slashed, and structural changes are taking place, the Association serves to ensure that graduate education remains strong here at Western.