Graduate students elected 21 new representatives last week from departments across the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to serve in their representative assembly.
The Graduate Student Assembly now has 107 representatives responsible for conveying concerns of graduate students to the GSAS administration. Sixteen seats remain vacant, and as a result 10 departments –– including the French, Film & Media Studies and Applied Mathematics Departments –– are unrepresented in the assembly. Still, GSA Vice President Ryan Petersburg GRD ’21 said the elections filled some historically empty seats, including the one delegated to the East Asian Studies department.
The elected officials aim to pursue a variety of projects to advance graduate student interests. Such programs include increased professional development resources, enhancement to transit systems and advocating for student health and wellbeing.
“I’m especially excited that we were able to fill a seat in the East Asian Studies Department, since this has historically been an unrepresented seat,” Petersburg wrote in an email to the News.
Petersburg — who coordinated the election — added that the 21 new representatives will further the GSA’s goals as “it is vital that we have representation from all corners of the graduate school.” GSA leadership encourages members of unrepresented departments to run for office or to contact an existing representative in an associated field of study with any concerns or ideas.
According to their mission statement, the GSA acts both as an identifier of the concerns of graduate students while also proposing solutions to those concerns, which they then present to the Dean of GSAS and other pertinent administrators. They also change Graduate School policies, when the student body deems it necessary.
Tyler Hayward GRD ’21, who is representing the East Asian Studies Department, said he hopes to make sure that concerns unique to his department are addressed through a town hall he plans to host with GSA funds. He plans to hold the event close to halfway through the semester, so the rest of the year can be spent addressing the issues raised.
Long Tu GRD ’25, who ran for an unfilled position, was elected to represent the Department of Investigative Medicine as an “exploratory effort” to see what the GSA does. Tu added that he hopes to advocate for wellness as well as physical, social and mental health needs of graduate students.
GSA representatives are also encouraged to serve on committees within the assembly. Max Scalf GRD ’24, a member of the Transit and Security Standing Committee, said he plans to use his position on the committee to make transit more accessible to graduate students. He hopes to institute the U-Pass CT program, which would give students free public transit within Connecticut. Last year, the GSA explored partnering with U-Pass for a program that would only cover graduate students. It remains uncertain if the Department of Transportation would allow for only graduate students to enroll. Scalf also wants to create protections for bike racks during inclement weather.
Scalf said students interested in helping with the project should reach out to him for further information.
The assembly meets in Arthur K. Watson Hall at 60 Sachem St.
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