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GSA elects new vice president

Connor Walters to take over as vice president for the remaining term

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Wednesday evening’s Graduate Student Association Senate meeting did not have the anticipated fireworks that have recently sparked turmoil in the GSA’s student government.

Students voted to recognize three new student clubs, approved funds for various student group activities and voted to approve the proposed 2017-18 budget. The major item on the agenda was the Graduate Student Association’s election of its new vice president, Connor Walters, a Ph.D. candidate in the school of social work. Amy Miu, the former vice president resigned on Sept. 5.

Walters was elected in by a vote of 45 in favor; 16 opposed. He ran unopposed.

Walters said he hopes to bring stability to the GSA by drawing on his people skills and ability to listen and empathize with students.

Jennifer Schechter, interim president, presented a drafted budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Several students voiced concerns over the $29,000 budget shortage and the GSA’s long-term plan to address their shrinking revenue.

Michael Grela, director of accounting, said budget lines are constantly being adjusted and that graduate students need to account for their increasng costs and decreasing revenue. Grela said external audits of the GSA are conducted annually.

Schechter added that these long-term solutions include many suggestions former treasurer Anastasia Stepanova made in her resignation email on Tuesday. These included looking to other revenue sources and the graduate school to support increased graduate student costs.

Caitlin McIntyre, a graduate student in the English department, announced an update on the graduate student’s Living Stipend Movement.

Members of the movement are planning to protest at 10:30 a.m. outside President Satish Tripathi’s annual State of the Union address on Friday, Oct. 6 in the Student Union Theater. The protestors will be “pan-handling” outside in an effort to continue to raise awareness for the living stipend movement.

“[Tripathi] and the administration are naturally very concerned with the university being competitive and having a good reputation and this is an area where they’re letting us down and letting the reputation of the school down,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre said she feels the administration is spreading “misinformation” through press coverage of the living stipend movement. She said reports that graduate students get free healthcare are not accurate.

“I would be happy to show the premiums and co-pays I pay,” McIntyre said.

Schechter announced a development on a formerly proposed, controversial organizational effectiveness study. Members of the finance committee said they fully support moving forward with the study to determine if the GSA is operating as efficiently as it could. Students said they support a third-party organization conducting the study to ensure its objectivity. Schechter said she agrees and the SBI’s attorney is advising them to “shop around” for the most affordable option.

Schechter told the senators they would have “something to vote on” by their next meeting in deciding to conduct an organizational effectiveness study. The study was first proposed by previous treasurer Stepanova.

Schechter announced an update on the status of president Tanja Aho, who was present at the meeting. Aho is currently incapacitated due to visa issues but has an appointment Oct. 12 to discuss her immigration status.

Aho said she will know by November whether she is able to return to her position as GSA president.

Walters and Schechter will appoint a temporary treasurer to replace Stepanova and students will decide later in the semester if they want to elect a new treasurer.

Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com


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