The Graduate Student Council held executive board elections for next semester and confirmed a budget reallocation at its monthly meeting Wednesday. The general body reelected Farha Mithila GS as GSC President and voted on the next vice president of advocacy, treasurer and chairs of nominations, international advocacy, master’s advocacy, student life and technology.
Mithila, who was first elected president in April, ran against Michael Daniti GS, who emphasized creating “more interaction between science and non-science graduate students.”
In her speech prior to voting, Mithila highlighted her experience as president thus far, her attempts to ensure transparency and her goal of helping students deal with food insecurity and providing resources to grads. Mithila stressed the need for a larger graduate student-specific center, better transit and improved security.
Mithila acknowledged that services “are lacking” for grads who are also parents, adding that there is a Brown Student Parent Group that works with GSC for funding and conversations about available resources.
Kevin LoGiudice ScM’21 GS was elected VP of advocacy over Daniti. Both candidates underscored the importance of focusing on master’s students, having attended the University for their master’s degrees.
LoGiudice focused on how he would help undocumented grads secure employment and financial aid as VP of advocacy.
The Council also voted to reelect Treasurer Sofia Verba GS, who was challenged by Steven Creech GS. Creech, who noted he has “voted against every single budget motion,” delivered an impassioned speech, advocating to “change the entire budget to make sure the needs of the students are actually met.”
Specifically, Creech focused on eliminating the free drink tickets GSC gives grad students at its social events. “Why should we be subsidizing alcohol when there are people in our community facing food insecurity?” he asked.
Verba said in her speech that “we do want to help (alleviate) food insecurity,” but doing so should be “Brown’s responsibility.”
“We do want to build community here,” she added, “and our socials are one of the best ways for grad students to meet each other.”
Incumbent Chair of Technology Muskaan Patel GS was challenged by Sree Charan Garudadri Venkata GS, who cited plans to expand the Council’s listservs, Slack channels and Zoom capabilities. The Council reelected Patel, who highlighted her previous work on the existing listservs and meeting technology.
The Council elected Dominique Barnes GS to be its next chair of nominations, Saoirse GS as the next chair of student life, Pavani Nerella GS — who is currently chair of communications — for chair of international advocacy and Christian Muñoz GS to maintain his role as the chair of master’s advocacy. All four ran unopposed.
The communications chair and social chairs positions were not filled due to a lack of candidates. Gulmeena Khan GS, who is currently a social chair, expressed interest in running for reelection, but because the position can be filled by two people, next year’s social chairs — as well as communications chair — will be decided in a special election held in the December meeting.
At the meeting, Verba also introduced a motion to approve a budget reallocation — moving $10,000 from the Halloween socials budget and $5,000 of GSC’s savings towards providing more funding for grads to travel to conferences.
The Council approved the motion, but members offered suggestions about what else could be done with the money in savings, which Verba said currently amounts to around $170,000, including recommendations that more money could be put towards food insecurity or a new graduate student space.
Student Life Chair Abdullah Rashed GS explained that some money had been put toward the Graduate Student Lounge to add speakers to the walls and a new TV that would sit in front of the lounge and display a calendar with upcoming events.
At the end of the meeting, Mithila added that the rollout of GSC’s renewed partnership with Brown Market Shares was beginning, and the food pantry had been restocked.