The Graduate Student Council elected its next president, chairs of social events, chair of master’s advocacy and chair of technology at its third meeting of the semester Wednesday. Graduate departmental representatives also voted on PhD and master’s commencement speakers.
Farha Mithila GS, who currently serves as chair of communications, ran unopposed for GSC president, winning the seat.
“I am a great advocate for our students,” Mithila said in a speech during the meeting, adding that she knows “what is happening on campus and what is happening outside GSC as well.” Mithila referenced her work in creating and distributing resource sheets, conducting a transportation survey and helping efforts to install menstrual product dispensers in University bathrooms.
A special election will be held at the final GSC meeting of the semester May 3 to determine who will replace Mithila as chair of communications.
Rose Gigliotti GS and Gulmeena Khan GS were elected joint chairs of social events, both also running unopposed. The two focused their platform on increasing family-friendly events for graduate student parents, which would take place earlier in the day and wouldn’t be centered around alcohol. Khan, a parent, said she hopes to “add my point of view as a mom who’s also studying” to the GSC executive board.
Christian Muñoz GS and Rudra Trivedi GS both ran to be chair of master’s advocacy. Muñoz won the election with 21 votes to Trivedi’s 14. In his speech, Muñoz proposed ideas such as monthly town hall meetings for master’s students, a mentorship program connecting master’s students across years and increased food resources.
“Your voices deserve to be heard. And I wanted to make myself accessible, give you all platforms and carry your concerns forward to the right people,” Muñoz said.
Incumbent Muskaan Patel GS won another term as chair of technology against challenger Pavani Nerella GS. In her speech, Patel, who was first elected to the position in December, described her work so far, including ensuring the GSC website is accessible to all students.
According to current GSC President Joe Colleyshaw GS, master’s advocacy and technology positions are up for election each semester, while all other positions are typically held from one December to the next. But because Colleyshaw will graduate in May and both social events chairs are stepping down, all five newly elected members of the GSC executive board will assume their positions in September and serve at least until elections occur again in December.
Following elections, GSC representatives listened to speeches by doctoral commencement speaker candidates — former GSC President Kathryn Thompson GS and Yifeng Troy Cai GS. The representatives selected Thompson, who discussed Brown’s history and the legacy this cohort of PhD students will leave.
“You're leaving a legacy that will have an impact for generations to come,” Thompson said in her sample speech. “Your research, your discoveries and your contributions will shape the world in ways that you cannot imagine.”
After hearing samples of master’s ceremony speeches from Khiara Lee GS and Hamidou Sylla GS, GSC selected Sylla as the master’s graduation speaker.
Sylla spoke about the University’s historic role in the transatlantic slave trade and the ways enslaved people built Brown as an institution, connecting this history to the responsibility of current students.
“We have a responsibility to leverage our education and voices,” Sylla said in her sample speech.
Representatives from the Graduate Labor Organization’s bargaining and organizing committees also attended the meeting, updating GSC on GLO’s ongoing contract negotiations with the University. According to Chris Woods GS, a member of GLO’s organizing committee, the union will present its proposal for graduate workers’ wages at the upcoming bargaining session Wednesday.
The meeting ended with a series of announcements from GSC executives — including news of a potential lounge dedicated to graduate students, Colleyshaw said, as well as a coming process to apply for financial assistance from the School of Professional Studies for graduation regalia.
Katie Jain is a University News editor from New Jersey overseeing the graduate student life beat. She is a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs and History.