Graduate Student Senate elected its 2017-18 executive positions, with 232 graduate students voting in the election April 3-4.
At Tuesday’s meeting, it advocated for sexual assault awareness and protection of undocumented immigrants. GSS also passed resolutions regarding its budget and attendance policy, and it announced a plan to rebrand.
GSS elected its 2017-18 administration
Graduate students at Ohio University elected the 12 new executive members of GSS. All winners were elected from the same ticket, GLocals.
Maria Modayil was elected president, Christopher Glick Vice President for Legislative Affairs, Alec Koondel Vice President for Finance, and Becky Salami Vice President for Communications. Only three positions — senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, senator for the College of Fine Arts and senator for the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs — were opposed.
GSS is comprised of the four executive officers aforementioned and one senator from each college. The positions are elected by graduate students. Moreover, there are representatives from each academic department, who are elected by their department, and several commissioners to represent a variety of special interests. These are chosen by the top officers and various non-voting members involved in committees and projects.
The Senate body is also beginning to rebrand itself
GSS is taking steps to increase its campus-wide image, and the body voted on several resolutions to further this cause. Senate approved a resolution to allocate almost $100 toward ordering 30 honor cords for Senate members to wear at commencement, and $100 for two fitted tablecloths and a table runner to be used for public relations purposes.
“The purpose of this was to have something a lot more professional to use when we have tabling and other events,” said GSS President Ian Armstrong.
GSS also voted on a resolution to use money from its budget to give a $30 honorarium to someone who designs its new logo. Senate wants the logo to increase awareness and attention on campus. The resolution was tabled due to unclear language about who would receive the honorarium and why the body chose $30 as the amount.
GSS executive advocated for Better Bystanders training.
Angie Chapman, Vice President for Legislative Affairs, urged department representatives to continue to ask academic departments to host Better Bystander training sessions. Better Bystanders is a student organization that works to prevent sexual violence and increase bystander intervention through education and awareness.
Claire Eder, the representative from the English department, reported that the English graduate student organization agreed to host the next Better Bystander training. Recently, former English professor Andrew Escobedo was accused of sexual assault by two female graduate students, and is currently going through a process for dismissal.
GSS immigration task force is taking steps to protect immigrants at OU
The GSS task force for undocumented immigrants wrote a report about why Ohio University should add immigration status as a protected status under the anti-discrimination policy. It presented its report to administrators April 2, and it is waiting for a response. The report, which cited President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, addressed the need for protecting undocumented immigrants at Ohio University.
“I felt like we made a fairly strong case as to why the university should add this to the policy,” said Elliot Long, a chairman of the task force. “Particularly since it takes nothing away from the university to do so.”
Former President Roderick McDavis declined to add immigration status as a protected class, saying it fell under the label of nationality, so adding it was unnecessary. Current Interim President David Descutner has not commented on the issue.
Graduate Student Senate plans to implement a new attendance policy
The Senate voted on two resolutions regarding attendance policies. The first was to amend the Rules and Procedures to give the job of recording attendance of the vice president for Legislative Affairs to the president of GSS. At the moment, the vice president is responsible for keeping the attendance record of body meetings, and no one is in charge of recording her attendance. The resolution passed without opposition.
The second resolution was to amend the Rules and Procedures to decrease the amount of unexcused absences that members of GSS can have before being dismissed. Currently, members can have three unexcused absences per semester, but the new resolution changes the policy to allow only four unexcused absences per school year. This resolution was tabled for further discussion at the next meeting. Several GSS members questioned its necessity, pointing out that low attendance is not an issue at meetings.
Graduate Student Senate will meet again April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Walter Hall, Room 235.