Q&A With SGA's Daniel Yates

Did you know that not everyone in SGA is on the path to public office? Daniel Yates, the vice president for graduate affairs, is applying to dental school at Tech.

How does working for SGA contribute to your studies in biology?
Well it probably doesn’t in terms of science or in things like that but I like working with students and I’ve been in student leadership for a while. I was president of my fraternity, I’m the chapter advisor here now, that’s basically how I’m involved.

What is one goal you have for the graduate student community?
One of the things that I would love to see happen is that the graduate students become more engaged in the community. Right now there is just kind of a lack of community. As graduate students we kind of go to our departments and do our research and do our work and teach and try to get it done. Right now there’s not a lot of graduate students that are going to say football games or getting involved in some TAB events or things like that. 

What sort of events are you thinking of?
They might not be interested in going to the dive-in movie but we can find something that they would want to do. Some networking events because that’s particularly important for graduate students. To network and understand what’s going on with the campus. That will improve our research here as well. 

Why is it so important for you that graduate students feel more involved in the campus community?
I prefer that they see this place more like a home instead of their work environment. I feel like when I went to school here at Tech I was involved with my fraternity and other campus activities with choir and things like that. I felt more at home here. When I left here I didn’t know I was coming back and it was honestly a really sad moment because of the time I spent here I really loved the place. Graduate students spend just as much time here if not more but I feel that they kind of miss out on that, that home aspect and I want to get them involved in here on campus. So they’ll have fonder memories here when they think back and really appreciate their time here. 

Masked Rider or Raider Red?
I’d say Raider Red only because he’s won the national, number one mascot and I see him out and about more than the Masked Rider.

What is one of the biggest issues facing the graduate student body?
Basically one of the issues I hear about all the time is about our student health issurance for graduate students, our international sutdnets in particular are required to have this student health insurance here. I think the student health insurance is great for what it is the only thing is that some people may not need all the services that they’re offering and since there’s no other option I think there should be another option. Now I don’t know what all the contracting that goes on into it and I know that the reason why we have our students on all one student plan instead of multiple ones is to help reduce that cost. I had some plans for that but now with the affordable care act coming in it kind of changes everything. So I’m kind of waiting to see what’s going to happen and find out what we can do about it. That’s something I’m looking into and I’m aware of that there are lots of complaints with student health insurance and the price and that there’s no option and things like that. 

Any other issues facing graduate students?
Another thing is that in the student government we’re funded by student service fees and those student service fees really can’t be used for research related travel and that’s just because student service fees are really supposed to go towards extracurricular type things. So I can’t give out money to organizations specifically for research related travel. However, the money that we do give out frees out some of their budget so that they can do it themselves and a lot of them do do that. But one of the things I’d like to do is fundraise and raise my own funds to be able to give back to the graduate students for these research related travels. These travels are so important that sometimes people don’t realize all the different aspects it’s doing. 

So graduate students aren’t getting enough in research travel funding?
I’m not trying to say the university isn’t trying to do that. There are plenty of departments in the grad school but I’d like for student government to be involved in that process as well and so raise the funds to do that. I don’t want it to come off that there is not other sources for travel fund, there are, it’s just that I think the students should have input in that as well and so if we could get a fund out to do that, that’d be great. 

How are student loan interest rate talks effecting graduate students?
Graduate students kind of got left out of that conversation. I remember the conversation was originally talking about undergraduate Stafford Loans going from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, doubling. Graduate students right now we’re already at 6.8%, we’ve been there. So we’re already at that higher one while undergraduates are so outraged, ‘6.8 percent is ridiculous.’ We’ve been there, graduate students are already there. There needs to be some attention to that because we don’t have, there are no subsidized loans for graduate students, they’re all unsubsidized. 

What is your favorite Texas Tech tradition?
I like Carol of Lights. I kind of have a personal connection with Carol of Lights. I sang in the choir when I was here a while back. I sang in the men’s choir, it’s called Matador Singers. We sang and we were a part of that whole ceremony. Typically it’s really cold but it’s a little bit different for me since I was a part of it.  

What sort of work have you had to do thus far as a liaison between the graduate student body and the administration?
One of the things I’m really advocating for is I’m trying to find scholarship money to try to attract our top researchers across the country to come to Texas Tech. Using the scholarship money for either reducing or to pay for the cost of living at that new complex on campus that they’re building.

Why is the new graduate student housing complex so important?
With that new complex once it’s done we’ll be the only institution in Texas that has graduate housing for graduate students on campus. We’re going to be the only school in Texas with housing on campus. Texas has one off campus, Texas A&M is also off campus. They’re all near campus but we’re actually on campus. It’s very very convenient. There’s going to be a bus route that will take you to all parts on campus. It’s going to be great. I would love to add that as part of the package to our top applicants to attract them here because no other school can offer them that. Other schools are offering different packages and we’d like to offer a slightly different one to be more competitive.





About Claudia Tristán

News Director    —    Journalism and Marketing double major, Class of 2013
Claudia works to cover current events and political issues that effect the Tech campus. She plans to return overseas as a foreign correspondent.

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