The Graduate and Profesional Student Senate elected its 11-member executive board for next year in front of about 50 graduate students Monday night.
The new GPSS executive board: Ryan Estes as president, Andrei Pavelescu as vice president, Dushyant Singh as finance director, Jennifer Reynolds as elections/recruitment director, Kara Lemma as social programming director, D’Andre Holland as community and special events director, Arash Saifhashemi as communications director, Alice Bardan as public relations director, Jaclyn Selby as academic affairs director, Yohey Tokumitsu as campus affairs director and Damon De La Cruz as the Health Sciences Campus director.
“I feel very optimistic about what the new executive board will accomplish in the next school year,” said John Shen, a graduate student studying neuroscience.
For each of the 11 positions, there were either one or two candidates. Each candidate had two minutes to give a speech, followed by questioning from current GPSS senators. The senators could volunteer pros or cons for the particular candidate.
The senate then electronically voted for a candidate (or abstained from the vote). For those positions where there was only one candidate, the candidate still had to receive a majority of the vote.
“I was very impressed with the diversity of the candidates this year,” said Amanda Foran, a PhD candidate in occupational science.
Although all the candidates focused on different issues, there seemed to be a few widespread concerns.
One such issue was the integration of the Health Sciences Campus and the University Park Campus. Candidates for public relations director, communications director and the social programming director all shared concerns that there is a gap between the students and events on both campuses. All candidates promised to bridge that gap by reaching out more to HSC students through social programs and the GPSS website and newsletter.
Another prominent issue was GPSS’s transparency in its financial system and financial committees. Singh, who was elected finance director Monday said he wants to create a Facebook page where all graduate students, and especially GPSS senators, can voice their opinions and questions about the financial situation of GPSS.
“It seems that GPSS is very finance oriented and there are very complicated finance issues that have surfaced in general and specifically at this elections meeting that need to be addressed,” Shen said.
Involvement of online students also proved a hot button issue.
Many candidates, including Estes, said they wanted to see online students be more involved in GPSS and in other graduate student events. Reynolds said she wanted to reach out to more graduate students, including international and online students because they are a part of the graduate community as well.
Although these were not the only issues the candidates addressed, there was a sense of energy about these issues that all the candidates and the senators recognized.
“The candidates represented the student body very well,” Shen said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm and diligence in all of them.”