GSS fills empty chair, discusses voting issues

Channing Hindel

The resignation of the executive vice chair for educational concerns last month left an opening on the Executive Board of the Graduate Student Senate.

Jacob Alonzo’s resignation and the filling of his chair on the executive committee of GSS was just one of the many topics addressed at the November meeting Wednesday afternoon in Room 310 of the Student Center. Members listened and enjoyed cold cuts and soup while discussing new business and funding for many graduate student programs.

The members present at the meeting voted unanimously to confirm Stephan Woods as the new vice chair, though he’s occupied the position since Alonzo resigned shortly after October’s meeting.

Shane Williams, advocacy chair for the executive board of GSS, said Woods has filled the position well.

“He’s been a persistent presence with GSS,” said Williams. “His science background helps with the committees in deciding where different research funding should go.”

Woods, who ran for the position in the initial election and lost by a single vote to Alonzo, was unavailable for comment.

The executive committee announced that it has another position opening up because its administrative assistant, Amber Ferris, has resigned because of a need to focus on her studies. Applications for the position, which is open to all graduate students, will be accepted until Nov. 18. Those interested in the position can e-mail GSS at [email protected]

The big announcement at the meeting had to do with the distribution of reimbursement checks. GSS reimburses students who present at and attend conferences. The process for reimbursement will now be done electronically, according to executive chair Edward Moreira. This will cut down on the time it takes for students to receive their reimbursement checks to about two weeks. In the past it took as long as two months to process the requests.

GSS approved several requests for funding including $400 for the philosophy department’s 15th annual May 4 conference, which will take place on March 8. This was an unusual request as the standard is normally $200 for a speaker, $150 for an event and $50 for a social, but not all three. There was one “no” vote to the request from Ellen Monroe, representative for the cultural foundations of the education department.

“I didn’t want to set a precedent for people asking for all three,” Monroe said. “I think that’s quite reasonable.”

Molly Taggart, representative for communication studies, announced that the Communication Graduate Student Association will have its second annual CGSA Cell Phone Recycling drive. Students, faculty, staff and alumni can donate old cell phones to Safer Futures, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence. The phones will be refurbished and given to people who will be able to call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation.

In new business, Marybeth Sullivan, representative of the English department, asked GSS and graduate students alike for support in the English graduate students’ efforts to keep their vote on all the committees within the English department.

Moreira said it was important for graduate students to have a voice on campus.

“When it comes to things like choosing the new president or provost, the university has listened to us (GSS) as an important voice on campus,” Moreira said.

Moreira also said GSS will consider next month whether or not to extend further support. This could be done by passing a resolution.

Moreira said the meeting went pretty well for GSS, which has seen significant improvement in the last year.

“We have increased monies to funding research and travel by 50 percent,” he said, “as well as reducing the operating costs of GSS.”

Contact graduate and undergraduate affairs reporter Channing Hindel at [email protected].