GSG elects executive board

first_imgThe structure of GSG. Design by Samantha Chiu.Graduate students account for more than 50 percent of the student population at USC, yet Graduate Student Government is often much less visible on campus than its undergraduate counterpart. It tackles many similar issues and faces many of the same challenges, but because of the nature of the graduate student experience, GSG has a much different process from USG.GSG held elections on Feb. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Radisson Hotel at USC. Unlike USG, in which the entire student body votes for officers, the GSG Senate elects GSG officers. Elections are only for three positions: president, vice president and director of Health Sciences campus.The president of GSG serves four primary functions: representing GSG to the administration and other university committees; maintaining and supporting internal programs and staff; managing the GSG office and administrative budget; and representing GSG to external organizations.The vice president is responsible for administering the GSG Travel Grant program, acting as chief of staff for the executive board, planning weekly meetings, supporting the GSG residents and running the GSG Special Projects Committee.The director of Health Sciences campus represents HSC at the university level, runs the HSC Concerns Committee, oversees and supports the HSC Governing Council and serves as a liaison for HSC to the University Park campus.Representatives from each graduate program make up the GSG Senate. Each program receives one representative for each 2 percent of the total graduate student population in their program, up to six senators. For example, if a program’s population made up 10 percent of the total graduate population, it would have five senators. Each program can decide their own process for selecting senators.Travis Brashears, a second-year law student, is the current director of Elections and Recruitment. He is in charge of organizing the elections and recruiting new GSG members.“The hard part about our job is that because all of the grad programs are so siloed and so different, we really don’t have the ability to know exactly what’s going on and what the graduate students need,” Brashears said. “That’s really what the Senate does — we try to find as many ways possible to express what their concerns are.”The executive board of GSG is divided into departments, each led by its own director. These departments include areas like community service, campus affairs and finance. After the election, the current director, along with the current and incoming elected officers, will select the directors. Once these nominations have been made, the senate has two weeks to pull candidates before a confirmation vote of the full Senate.In order to be eligible for executive board positions, a student must serve for at least one full semester in one of the following positions: GSG Senator, executive board member, GSG committee member, University Committee member or USC-recognized graduate student group executive board member.Brashears said that one of the unique challenges for GSG that directly affects his job is a lack of student involvement.“Grad students are very busy,” Brashears said. “Their schedules don’t really work well with having student government and other obligations on campus. Sometimes it’s hard to find people at all. So that’s the big concern — trying to get the word out and get people involved.”Students can get involved in GSG in many different ways. All Senate and executive board meetings have an open-door policy. Students can either drop in at meetings or give advance notice to have time set aside to address the full Senate. They can also contact their respective senators directly about any issues or concerns. If students want to be considered for one of the three elected positions, they must have a candidate statement and application prepared by the time of the election.Brashears stressed the importance of student involvement, even for those students not directly involved with GSG. Because the graduate experience differs so greatly between schools, senators rely heavily on feedback from constituents.“The hard part about our job is that because all of the grad programs are so siloed and so different, we really don’t have the ability to know exactly what’s going on and what the graduate students need … we try to find as many ways possible to express what their concerns are. We then look into finding ways to improve the experience of the students,” Brashears said.The topics that GSG addresses vary greatly, depending on the specific needs of graduate students. GSG has worked to create an intercampus shuttle between the Health Sciences campus and University Park. They have also passed bicycle safety resolutions and are currently looking into creating designated smoking areas on campus.Brashears also said that there has been a renewed push for greater cooperation between USG and GSG recently.“Historically, there’s been a big division,” he said. “We share support staff, but our president and USG’s president have made a big push trying to get more intertwined. It’s tough because most of the big events that are thrown at school are done every year. and they’ve been historically paid for by one group or another, historically attended by one group or another, and so it’s tough sometimes to come together.”Though USG and GSG generally operate independently, they cooperatively planned last year’s Green Initiative with over 45 different environment-focused programs.Yohey Tokumitsu, a second-year doctorate of education student, is the current president of GSG. He praised the freedom the university gives GSG to address challenges facing graduate students.“The opportunities that I get — I sit on the Board of Governors, I meet Trustees. The university gives us a huge voice in what happens in the university,” he said.last_img read more

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