In their second meeting of the semester, the Graduate Student Council hosted Graduate Labor Organization President Sherena Razek GS and Secretary Mary Higgins to discuss the recent removal of two graduate students, as well as accommodations and emergency funding options for grad students.
GSC also elected Sofia Verba GS as the new treasurer at the meeting, replacing Joe Colleyshaw GS. Verba ran against one other graduate student and advocated for student workers’ conditions.
GLO will be negotiating with the University on their union contract early next year, The Herald previously reported. GLO is currently working on a survey to ask graduate students what changes they would like to see from negotiations with the University, according to Razek and Higgins.
“We are going to unite grads to show that we are a powerful force on this campus, and we can win things that we deserve,” Razek said.
Razek also spoke extensively about the two graduate students who were removed from their respective programs, as previously reported by The Herald.
“We're writing the language of the next contract,” Razek said. “We need to take care of each other. We need to be present for each other in this process. This is a really big year for graduate workers like us, and we can set precedents for other universities to follow.”
“If we are powerful enough, if we are united enough, we can make demands for the common good,” Razek said. “There is a role for everybody in the revolution.”
Desirae Mix, assistant director of Student Accessibility Services, also spoke about graduate school accommodations. Mix highlighted that there are now 330 graduate students registered with SAS, up from 210 last year. She also addressed concerns about accessible housing availability for graduate students and described the process for requesting accommodations.
Colleyshaw gave a short update on the access to emergency funding for graduate students. He highlighted the three main lines of funding available for graduate students: E-gap funding, the Meal Gap program — which provides meal swipes to students experiencing food insecurity — and short-term loans.
Chair of Social Life Abdullah Rashed GS introduced options for the annual graduate student Distinguished Speaker Series. Options for a Zoom speaker included author Mikki Kendall, known for her book “Hood Feminism”; prison reform activist Yusef Salaam; activist Erin Brockovich; and hip hop artist and activist Xiuhtezcatl “X” Martinez.
Additionally, the social committee announced that the Halloween social will be from 8 to 11 p.m. on Oct. 7 at Narragansett Brewery — and that there will be a costume contest.
At the end of the meeting, members discussed the possibility for group therapy sessions offered for graduate students that would be mediated by a Counseling and Psychological Services therapist.