Graduate Assembly elects officers amid contestation at Thursday meeting

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During its Thursday meeting, the campus’s Graduate Assembly held its annual elections for officer positions, during which almost every position was contested.

It is rare for the Graduate Assembly to experience contended positions during its elections, according to Dax Vivid, who was elected campus affairs vice president during the meeting. Her position had three contenders.

“This is the first year where I’ve seen almost every role be contended,” Vivid said. “I think that that’s really amazing.”

During the meeting, the Graduate Assembly delegates elected Iman Sylvain as president. Sylvain noted that the assembly is generally considered to be a moderate body but that she drew inspiration from its progressive history. In addressing the delegates, she invoked the Graduate Assembly’s history of political activism as a means of “looking to the past to prepare for our future.”

After her election, Sylvain said she sees the assembly becoming more progressive, though she noted that there are further improvements to be made. She observed that diversity of leadership is an important factor in empowering students so that everyone feels as though they can participate and contribute equally.

“We have to do a lot of work internally, but also externally,” Sylvain said.

Vivid, however, sees the Graduate Assembly as already progressive.

“If ‘progressive’ involves taking student input and making change happen in a way that enables every student — regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation — to be able to be an active shaper of this campus, then I would say we’re progressive,” Vivid said.

As campus affairs vice president, Vivid aims to further lower barriers to student participation and increase student engagement with the Graduate Assembly.

In an address to the assembly, Andrew Stevens, the newly elected rules officer, advised the assembly not to “speed through” or “assume universal consent” during its meetings. Prioritizing expediency and efficacy can silence students’ voices, Stevens added.

In regards to the campus’s recently created Office of Strategic Initiatives, several candidates cited the importance of working with administrators and faculty. Sylvain, however, said she anticipates some difficulty in future dealings with the administration.

“(Chancellor Nicholas Dirks) is not the easiest person to get a commitment from, so negotiations are limited in that regard,” Sylvain said.

In addition, the candidates for internal affairs vice president also noted the importance of collaborating with the undergraduate student representative body of the ASUC.

“By bringing together both (the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly), we can truly make sure that as these new changes happen, we are heard as students who stand united,” said Kena Hazelwood-Carter, who was elected internal vice president, during the meeting.

During the meeting, Jonathan Morris was elected external affairs vice president and Matt Grigorieff was elected vice president of finance. Eric Bolin became the funding officer and Daniel Wooten will be the sustainability officer.

Contact Patricia Serpa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @pserpa_dc.