The Graduate Assembly had a busy night Thursday. After unanimously voting to secede from the ASUC, it elected its executive officers for the 2018-19 academic year.
During the meeting, Jonathan Morris was elected president. Derrika Hunt was elected campus affairs vice president, Luis Tenorio as vice president of equity and inclusion, Derek Schatz as internal vice president, Rachel Roberson as external affairs vice president and Adam Orford as vice president of funding.
Tessa Scott was elected rules officer and Liz Lawler as funding officer. Mary Shi and Sonia Travaglini were elected as graduate council representatives, and Dre Helmns was elected as a graduate council representative alternate.
“I’ve worked with pretty much all of them in one capacity or another, and I have full confidence in their ability to carry out their duties and propel the Graduate Assembly forward,” outgoing assembly president Kena Hazelwood-Carter said.
Hazelwood-Carter commented on the process of the Graduate Assembly, or GA, becoming independent from the ASUC, saying that it will be important for the GA to keep lines of communication open with the ASUC, the student union and across campus. She added that the transition is “a really big undertaking,” but that the newly elected officers should not feel overwhelmed by the task.
“It is all worth it because this will allow for our portion of the population to have an independent voice,” Hazelwood-Carter said.
Incoming president Morris, succeeding Hazelwood-Carter, shares her vision for an independent graduate voice, saying in an email that he plans to “facilitate implementing the necessary steps to ensure graduate students have an independent voice.”
The GA is the official representative body of UC Berkeley’s graduate and professional student population. Its principles include “the promotion of a vibrant student social life, inclusiveness, activism, community service, educational improvement, and professional development,” according to the GA website.
In addition to the executive board, the GA is composed primarily of graduate delegates who represent each department across campus. According to Orford, the executive board is a set of positions that are responsible for the day-to-day processes of the assembly that ultimately operate at the instruction of the delegate body.
The newly elected executive officers were nominated and chosen by members of the current GA, according to Orford. He said any member of the GA was able to nominate any other member for a position in the executive board and, prior to the election, nominated candidates were able to address the assembly.
Speaking to the GA’s unanimous vote to secede from the ASUC, Orford said it will be an ongoing process to determine the relationship between the two entities, but that their role of “standing up” for students remains similar.
“We will have disagreements, but we’re interested in a system in place to speak with each other so disagreements don’t have to be problems,” Orford said.
Though there will inevitably be changes that follow the GA’s secession from the ASUC, Orford said he does not want much to change regarding financial management. As vice president of funding, Orford said he wants to maintain the finances of the assembly and continue distributing funds to graduate student organizations and graduate student advocacy projects, as well as maintain the nonprofit status of the organization.
Orford noted other goals he will work to achieve in his position, including new fundraising goals and placing graduate students on campus committees that affect all students’ financial interests.
Morris also said in an email that he hopes the GA will be able to provide advocates for the graduate and professional student populations in campus decision-making.
“All too often, decisions and policies are formulated and implemented with undergraduates in mind and without appropriate care for how graduate students are impacted, despite the unique aspects of graduate education,” Morris said in the email.