Above and Beyond Award Winners

At our January senate meeting, we recognized two of our senators who's actions have truly set them apart and exemplified what it means to be a part of our Graduate Student Government. Congratulations to both Michael Oats (Senator for Biological Sciences) and Mathew Dittmann (Senator for Entomology) for their hard work and dedication; we couldn't think of senators more deserving of this award! In recognition of their achievements, we wanted to share their insights into following two questions:

What motivated you to first join PGSG and then become as active as you are now? and… What would you hope PGSG’s role to be within Purdue and how can the grad student body help achieve that vision?

Michael Oats [Biological Sciences]

"The opportunity to join PGSG came during the graduate student symposium that the Biological Graduate Student Association (BGSA) held in 2018. I had been looking for a way to become more involved at Purdue, so when there was an announcement during the symposium that the BGSA needed a senator for PGSG, I saw an opportunity to represent the interests of my fellow graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences as well as disseminating information regarding policy changes at Purdue, as well as educational and social opportunities. Representing and collecting feedback from the students in my department was especially important this previous summer during the transition pay situation, in which it became necessary to make sure that the students in my department were being heard as it was a difficult time for some of them. I have also recently started sending out surveys to receive feedback from students in my department regarding upcoming bills, speakers, or any questions for PGSG that they might have in order represent their interests more fully.

My hope for PGSG is that it continues to be an active and unifying voice for the graduate students at Purdue. One very effective function that it has served is that it has allowed graduate students from various departments to have their voices heard and see what graduate students in different departments are experiencing. The graduate school body can help achieve this vision by sending any concerns, questions, or opinions to their PGSG representative. I would also encourage the different graduate student associations in different departments to reach out to one another and discuss if there are any issues, concerns, or ideas that are shared across the graduate student body. By doing this, my hope is that the graduate student body at Purdue will have an even stronger and effective voice at Purdue."

Mathew Dittmann [Entomology]

"I initially joined PGSG in 2016 because our previous Senator was intending to leave the post and was asking for a replacement. I actively began engaging in Senate meetings when the Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities began being developed. I’d heard stories about how some graduate students experience problems under their advisers, and I was interested in trying to do something to improve the graduate student experience. The #purduepay situation only cemented that desire when Purdue HR made little attempt to acknowledge the financial crisis they caused for many graduate students.

I am definitely not alone in seeing PGSG as a body on campus that wants to advocate on behalf of graduate student welfare on campus, and I’d like to see us continue that trend. Primarily, I’d like PGSG to take the lead when it comes to speaking about how administrative policy and missteps can negatively impact graduate students at Purdue. I was disappointed that it took three months to pass legislation that asks for what I consider to be the bare minimum response to #purduepay, and it is my hope that PGSG can find the confidence to tell our stories and give the administration an honest account on how issues like these can harm us. In addition, it’s my hope that the graduate students that we represent will hold us accountable for advocating for their welfare to the Purdue community."

Congratulations again to Michael and Mathew!

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Last Updated January 2021 by Purdue Graduate Student Government.

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