Ling Gao

The Graduate Student Assembly elected Lucylle Armentano GRD ’21 and Ryan Petersburg GRD ’21 last Wednesday as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the assembly for the 2019–2020 academic year.

Armentano and Petersburg said they intend to build on this year’s Graduate Student Assembly agenda while continuing to urge graduate and professional school communities to further engage with the assembly’s projects. About 40 representatives from various departments in the graduate school voted for Armentano and Petersburg — who ran separately and uncontested — and chose to re-elect two members of the current executive board — Jenette Creso GRD ’23 and Zach Michielli GRD ’22.

Armentano hopes to encourage graduate students to participate in graduate assembly initiatives, which she hopes will continue to flourish.

“Say a project like scheduling finals for graduate courses, if you spend 15 minutes a day contacting registrars and the next day you submit that to someone, that can further some of our goals,” Armentano said.

Armentano is currently serving her third year as an assembly representative, completing her term as chair of its Academics and Professional Development Committee. She said she would like to increase student engagement by hosting more town halls with administrators, thus allowing graduate students to have a voice in their community. She intends to initiate more small-scale projects for assembly representatives and their constituents so that graduate students will be able to create noticeable change in their respective departments. She added that identifying “a clear goal and a clear end” for projects will likely increase assembly participation.

Petersburg is completing his second year as a Graduate Student Assembly representative and his first year as treasurer. Petersburg said that he would like to establish a “living document” that would record the assembly’s goals and develop “institutional memory” because today, most graduate students who come to the assembly often do not know what it has been working on. He intends to tackle “behind-the-scenes” tasks at the graduate assembly, helping it operate with greater transparency and efficiency.

Armentano and Petersburg plan to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as improve facilities access for their constituents. They hope to tackle graduate students’ housing problems as they help students navigate difficulties with landlords who can be exploitative of tenants on account of their generally short-term leases. Armentano and Peterburg believe the assembly could help graduate students work with community resources to combat this.

Armentano and Petersburg also hope to increase collaboration between the assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

“Our collaboration and ability to work together will be built this year,” Armentano said. “The perennial goal of the chair is to advocate for graduate students and ensure their needs are met by the administration.”

Armentano and Petersburg will officially take over May 15.

John Besche |