Posted on April 16, 2022 • 5 minutes • 1030 words
UPDATE: Thanks for electing me to be your GSC President! Read on to see some of the issues we’ll be taking on together next year.
This page is organized as follows:
- Platform Summary
- About Me
- Priority Agenda Topics
1) Platform Summary
Listen First 👂
- Invitation to exec meetings and convos with admins
- Report-outs from 2-3 depts per month
- Open office hours
Leverage Platform 💪
- Collect data from surveys and referandums
- Pass and distribute data-driven resolutions
- Broadcast graduate student needs to community and admin
Build Coalitions that Win 📣
- Partner with Energetic Grad student orgs
- Restart relationship with Hustler Student Newspaper
- Invest in Faculty and Undergraduate Senate Needs
2) About Me
I recently spoke with Zach Joseph from the Vanderbilt Hustler about who I am and what I wanted to do in GSC. Read on below:
Why am I running for President?
As the current Vice President, I’ve spent a lot of time working together with the Dept Reps to write and pass resolutions, such as our most recent bill asking the Board to reserve a Trustee position for alumni of VU PhD programs. Along the way, I was struck by how thoughtful and passionate my peers were about improving conditions for other students on campus - and honestly I just want to go to bat for them! As GSC President, I’ll leverage my experience calling for change on campus to make sure grad student needs are heard at the higest levels.
What do I hope to bring to the Presidency?
One thing I’d like to bring to the Presidency is a sense of transparency about how our agenda is set. That’s why I’m already preparing a full, public platform of topics I think GSC should weigh in on at my website (see the bottom of this page). If you have any ideas about things GSC should consider, please email me and I’ll get them added to our shortlist!
Where would I like to continue with previous tracks of the Presidency?
I really admired President Passantino’s work creating the graduate student lounge in Alumni Hall, and I’d like to continue fostering a sense of belonging for graduate students on campus. I know they’ll be promising opportunities to do just that once the new graduate student housing complex is complete, and I’m interested in what other spaces are available for use in the mean time (pub dining hall, anyone?)
Where would I like to defer from the path with the Presidency?
I would like to emphasize coalition building more than has historically occured in the GSC. The different campus constitutencies, from faculty to grad students to staff, often have similar goals that would be more likely realized if we worked together. Stay tuned for a more regular relationship between GSC and the Hustler to help broadcast these opportunities to collaborate.
What is a specific Vanderbilt graduate student-related issue that you think needs to be addressed urgently?
Investing in grad student Mental Health has never been more important than it is now. I believe this point is well characterized in the recent open letter from the grad students of the Biomedical Sciences Department, who’ve tragically lost four of their peers in the last two years alone. The GSC has an incredible platform to consider and promote the changes these students are calling for, and under my presidency the council would debate their proposals immediately.
3) Priority Agenda Topics
In addition to concerns brought forward by the department reps, I propose that our GSC address the following important topics:
- Mental Health 🧠 - Publish list of local providers outside of VU that take student insurance - Promote Community events to foster Belonging as often as possible - Partner with Faculty Senate Student Life Committee to reallign on-campus resources for post-pandemic student needs - International Student Affairs ✈️ - Survey visa approval process - Expand insurance outreach to include programming in languages other than English - Create Uber / Lyft funds for when public transit is unavailable - Vision Dental Benefits 🦷 - Ask graduate community if vision and dental needs are being met - Identify benefits plans in use at peer universities - Petition administration to consider improving these benefits - Wages 💰 - Document the existing wage gap between different PhD programs - Model Nashville inflation and rent increases compared to cities with comparable graduate program stipends - Leverage GSC platform to meaningfully advocate for wage increases - LGBTQ Concerns 🌈 - Survey if LGBTQ grad students feel there is adequate campus accomodations such as restrooms - Express solidarity with LGBTQ students in response to recent anti-transgender Tennessee legislation - Partner with community orgs who champion LGBTQ rights on campus - Diversity Concerns ❤️ - Create formal, inter-departmental cohorts of recruits from underrepresented backgrounds (modeling Duke Sloan program) - Share and invest GSC platform with existing grad student cultural community orgs - Proactively solicit feedback from campus community to identify additional needs - Disabilities / Accessibility ⭐ - Advocate for hybrid teaching and class options for all graduate students - Expand Academic Affairs Chair role to investigate current accessibility of graduate programs - Report rooms for improvement to Faculty Senate Student Life Committee and admin, making sure stakeholders are in room for these conversations - Parking 🚗 - Partner with faculty and staff to learn what options are available to community members - Investigate existing parking capacity and what exact need is from grad students - Win administration support for further subsidizing or eliminating parking fees - Dept Associations & Grad Org Funding 💸 - Promote transparency about funding approval process - Engage dept reps whose programs currently do not take advantage of available appropriations - Clarify alcohol policy for graduate students (yes, you can use VU money to fund your dept happy hour!) - Board of Trust Governance ⚖️ - Build off momentum of recently passed GSC Board of Trust Bill - Create screening committee to identify promising graduate candidates - Nominate first ever VU PhD Alumni to board by April 2023
Have an issue that’s important to you that I missed? Email me today with your ideas!