Campus Politics Graduate Senate coalition commences executive campaigns By Eric Boll Posted on February 25, 2020 6 min read 0 0 446 Coalition for Graduate Student Advancement. Left to right: Brett Fredericksen, Kaelyn Ferris, Amid Vahedi. Photo by Eric Boll Graduate Student Senate election campaigns kicked off last week, and a group of candidates formed a coalition aiming to reduce graduate health care costs and increase the student body’s stipend pay. The collective goes by Coalition for Graduate Student Advancement (CGSA) and features presidential candidate Kaelyn Ferris, Brett Fredericksen vying for vice president, and Amid Vahedi who’s running an uncontested campaign for treasurer. Fredericksen is challenged by Senator Amal Shimir for vice president and Ferris will face GSS outsider Uchenna Okwara for president. All enrolled graduate students may vote in the election electronically between March 17 and 19. Their Common Goals: All three candidates plan to work to make it easier for students to find a health insurer outside of the university’s contracted insurance. All graduate students at Ohio U are required to have university-approved health insurance. “We feel that if graduate students aren’t making the money to afford this premium health insurance, then they should be allowed to go elsewhere and find other coverage,” Fredericksen told The New Political one week before a protest broke out at GSS about graduate student health care. The group also wishes to address changes to the stipend pay that graduate students receive. Currently, stipends aren’t being adjusted for inflation, and the candidates would like to adjust their pay to compensate for inflation. “The stipend increases, at least to the rate of inflation, is something done by every other university,” Vahedi said. “This isn’t a new idea.” Kaelyn Ferris: Ferris, a third-year Ph.D. student in the Physics and Astronomy Department, could be the first transgender GSS president. Ferris serves as the body’s department representative for physics and astronomy. Outside of GSS, Ferris has been a political activist in the city and previously electioneered for self-proclaimed socialist Ellie Hamrick’s Athens City Council campaign. Ferris also assisted her academic department with outreach programs and helped organize events for a biannual open-house hosted by the Physics and Astronomy Department. Before her time at Ohio University, Ferris obtained a bachelor’s degree in physics from Valparaiso University in Indiana and a master’s degree in physics from Ball State University. Brett Fredericksen: Fredericksen, a Ph.D. student in the Environmental and Plant Biology Department, is the ticket’s vice presidential candidate for the upcoming election. Fredericksen has been his department’s representative to the body for the past two years. In that time, Fredericksen helped pass legislation ranging from decreasing fees for graduate students and increasing grant funding. Fredericksen is a member of the LGBTQ community on campus, and was a student representative on the search committee for the LGBT Center’s new director last year. He was also involved in the creation of OutGrads, which aims to provide support for LGBTQ graduate students at the university. Before coming to Ohio U, he received a bachelor’s degree in plant biology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Amid Vahedi: Vahedi, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, is vying for treasurer. He serves as the department representative of chemical and biomolecular engineering to GSS. Amid Vahedi works with the Ohio U Iranian Student Society and has held executive positions in the group for the past two years. Before he came to Ohio U, Vahedi obtained his bachelor’s degree from the Petroleum University of Technology and his master’s degree from the Sharif University of Technology in Iran.