Graduate students campaigning to be GPSS president
Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:44 am in News
On the heels of the Undergraduate Student Government elections, the candidates for the Graduate and Professional Student Senate are kicking their campaigns into high gear.
There are three candidates running for GPSS president this year: Edward Ng, a first-year graduate student studying public policy and urban planning; Jenny Novak, a second-year graduate student studying geography; and Juanita Price, a first-year graduate student studying education.
The GPSS election differs from the USG election in that the senators, not the student body, choose the candidates. GPSS has about 60 senators representing the different graduate departments; senators will vote during the March Senate meeting.
There are far fewer GPSS candidates this year, according to Abhinav Chandran, public relations chair for GPSS. Chandran said typically there have been as many as six or more candidates for each position, but this year GPSS changed its rules. Now, candidates must have prior GPSS experience to run for a position.
Of the candidates, Novak has the most GPSS experience. Last year, she served as a senator for the geography department, and this year she is working as the Campus Affairs Chair.
Novak said the relationships she has formed with administrators during her two years with GPSS make her a qualified candidate for president.
âI have been going to a lot of meetings, and Iâm developing a lot of relationships that will be well-suited to the presidency,â she said.
Though Price has only been at USC for one year, she has experience working in student government at two other schools in addition to USC.
âI have a passion for advocacy and for education, and Iâve been doing this since community college,â Price said. âI offer something that the other candidates donât offer; I offer the experience of coming through three different institutions, and I have a larger viewpoint of what it means to be the voice of a student.â
Currently the finance chair for GPSS, Price worked in student government both at UC Riverside, where she earned her undergraduate degree, and at community college.
Ng, who currently serves as a chair for the LGBT and Allies committee for GPSS, worked as the University Affairs Committee Chairperson in the student government and served as president of the Residence Hall Association at Rutgers University, where he completed his undergraduate studies. He said he believes that experience has helped make him a strong leader.
âThat experience lends itself very well in GPSS because one of our chief things to do is to advocate,â Ng said. âI have this outside experience. I can combine that with my experience at USC and create newer innovative ideas and approaches to challenges we face on campus.â
Ng said the most important issues he wants to address are the Metro Transportation Authority TAP card program and housing, noting that he also intends to be flexible in his approach.
âA GPSS president needs to be flexible in learning about what the student population wants and needs and adapting to these needs,â he said.
Ng is stressing his organizational skills and commitment in his campaign for the presidency.
âI have a strong commitment to ensuring that information is available,â Ng said. âIf you look at my committee web page, I make it a point to say that I update this every week, on Thursday at 3 p.m. And I always make sure I do so.â
Like Ng, Novak also intends to focus on the MTA TAP card program and housing if elected. Another key issue she sees, however, is GPSS publicity.
âI want to see GPSS as a household name across campus [because] it seems like a lot of students come in and donât know about GPSS,â she said.
She added that she is willing to work on the long-term planning that will lead to great things she might not necessarily be here to see.
Price said the problems she intends to tackle if elected include implementing tax-exempt stipends for graduate student jobs and improving transportation.
âOne thing thatâs very important is this whole issue on transportation â working with the executive board and the senate to make sure we get the TAP card. It would help the professional students be able to move around and get home,â she said.
Price said she also wants to work more closely with senators to link the senate and the executive board.
Campaigning for the president of GPSS began last week. Candidates are currently meeting with senators and passing out fliers, and elections will be held March 29.