The Graduate Student Senate announced the results of its officer election on Friday citing a much higher than usual turnout of 534 total votes, or roughly 13% of all voting-eligible graduate students. All three winners are current GSS staff or officers who combined during the campaign period to form a unified ticket with considerable collective experience and prior accomplishments.
Robin Anderson (Ph.D. candidate, Communication) won for president, surpassing Wendy Dagle (Masters candidate, Public Policy and Administration) with 69.65% of the votes. For vice president, Ghazah Abbasi (Ph.D. candidate, Sociology) finished ahead of Nicholas Cummings (Masters candidate, Public Policy and Administration) with 73.67% of the votes. Lastly, Adina Giannelli (Masters candidate, Public Health) edged Xueting Jiang (Ph.D. candidate, Organization Studies) for treasurer with 57.57% of the votes.
Anderson ran a strong campaign with concrete goals for the ‘13-’14, bolstered by a long list of prior accomplishments from his service as GSS treasurer over the past two years. Carrying this momentum into the next year, his agenda focuses on continuing an initiative to gain more graduate student representation on the Board of Trustees, advocating for better student health insurance, and improving the participatory language of the Wellman document, among other things.
Abbasi also ran on a strong record of accomplishments as the GSS Involvement Coordinator, having worked in concerted effort with other officers and staff to double the total number of Senators from graduate departments across campus. Her stated goals as Vice-President include working to address the issue of funding shortages for graduate students, and collaborating with allies like GEO and SLSO to increase access to vital university resources.
Giannelli, leaving her current position as Graduate Women’s Network Coordinator after two years, also ran on a strong record of prior accomplishments and targeted goals for the coming year. Among other things, she will focus on increasing the overall number of GSO’s which GSS supports in community building, in addition to partnering with CSD to further develop GSO-friendly policies and practices.
Garth Schwellenbach, outgoing Vice-President and chair of the Election Committee, reported that the election proceeded smoothly and in accordance with GSS bylaws. The results were ratified by the Committee on Wednesday, and the Senate is expected to confirm the results during its final meeting of the academic year on May 3rd.
While the newly elected officers each boast strong individual records of achievement as advocates and organizers for UMass students, their greatest strength may lie in their shared work experience and strong history of productive collaboration. While change can certainly be healthy for organizations, each is new to their elected position, which should bode well for innovation in combination with the promise of working well as a team. Let’s hope this dynamic spells good things for all students on campus.