Voting began April 23 for the 2018 GSG elections, with nine graduate students vying for seven executive positions.
Five of the executive candidates are not currently involved in the Graduate Student Government. Of the 33 candidates running for representatives, 20 are not currently assembly members.
Incumbent GSG President Michael Goodman is not running for re-election.
“I’m excited for the next group of executive board members to carry on the legacy we set this past semester,” he said.
Because there were no nominations for public relations vice president, elections for this position will be held at a future assembly meeting, said Katie Brown, who chairs the GSG’s elections committee.
Graduate students can vote for executives and for their program representatives online at gsgvoting.umd.edu until May 7.
Annie Rappeport, second-year Ph.D., higher education, student affairs and international education policy
It bothers Annie Rappeport that she’s running unopposed for GSG president.
“As I start out, one of the questions in my mind is, ‘Why is that?'” she said. “How can I make this a more attractive role during my time [so] that more people want to participate?”
Legislative Affairs Vice President Adria Schwarber wrote in an email in March that of the 45 representatives now serving in the GSG, an average of 24 show up to each meeting. To determine how to best encourage attendance, Rappeport said she would reach out to each representative to learn what issues they care about and why they became involved.
“It’s really important to me that come next year, more than one person runs for this role,” she said.
Academic Affairs Vice President
Binbin Peng, second-year Ph.D., urban and regional planning and design
Binbin Peng served on the GSG committee to plan this year’s Graduate Research Appreciation Day, a day-long conference where graduate students share their research with peers and faculty.
If elected, Peng said she would encourage graduate students in all departments to get involved in planning the event.
“I really want to strive to get more students involved in every committee in our student government and really help to make our [Graduate Research Appreciation Day] committee more active, more welcoming and also fun,” she said.
Peng also said she would reach out to international students to encourage them to become involved in academic activities on campus. As an international student from China, Peng said she “knows how powerful [international students] can be.”
Gireesh Suresh, first year master’s, robotics
This is Gireesh Suresh’s first time running for student government. If elected, Suresh said he would reach out to graduate students to hear their concerns by distributing a survey to get a better understanding of the problems at hand and best be able to reach those who need more attention.
Community Development Vice President
Casey Cavanagh, third year Ph.D., atmospheric and oceanic science
Casey Cavanagh currently serves as an atmospheric and oceanic science representative. He also serves on the group’s Budget and Finance Committee, which reviews funding requests from graduate student organizations. Cavanagh did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Diversity and Inclusion Vice President
Monica Morell, third year Ph.D., measurement, statistics and evaluation
After serving as president for her department’s graduate student group, Monica Morell said she wanted to become involved in the GSG to impact a larger group of people. The GSG voted to add a diversity and inclusion vice president to its executive board in March, and Morell will be the first person to hold the position.
Because she thinks “diversity and inclusion is something that can have different meanings for different people who have been through different experiences,” Morell wants to begin her term by seeking input from the graduate student community and her fellow representatives.
“I’m really looking forward to working with a lot of different people with these different experiences to build something together,” she said.
Financial Affairs Vice President
Mingjie Feng, first year master’s, accounting
Mingjie Feng is not currently involved in the GSG but has attended this university since 2013 as an undergraduate government and politics major. Feng began to work towards earning his master’s of business administration with a concentration in accounting in 2016. Feng did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Devin Scott, fifth year Ph.D., communication
Devin Scott said he wants his record as this year’s financial affairs vice president to “speak for itself.”
Last semester, Scott headed the Budget and Finance Committee when the GSG discovered its fiscal 2017 budget had been overspent by about $36,000. The committee found several transactions that had been made without the assembly’s approval.
In December, the group voted to impeach its then-president, Stephanie Cork, on charges of misrepresentation of duty and misuse of funds, though she submitted her resignation in November following a vote earlier that month to launch an impeachment investigation.
“Now that we’ve got the budget balanced, we can take a look at where our priorities lie for the future of the organization,” Scott said. “You can do a lot of goal setting and vision setting in the budgeting process.”
Student Affairs Vice President
Xu Han, third year Ph.D., public policy
Xu Han said he decided to run for re-election as student affairs vice president after being elected in January to “continue the things I am working on,” like advocating for affordable housing in the surrounding area and promoting other projects that benefit graduate students.
Han called the lack of affordable housing in College Park his “number one issue.” At Graduate Hills and Graduate Gardens, monthly rent starts at $1,247, according to the apartment complex’s website.
Legislative Affairs Vice President
Roozbeh Bakhshi, fourth year Ph.D., mechanical engineering
Though he has never run for an executive position before, Roozbeh Bakhshi served as a GSG mechanical engineering representative for four years. In 2016, Bakhshi was elected to chair the Governance Committee, where he oversaw the impeachment investigation into the group’s previous president.
Bakhshi said his experience as chair of this committee will help him in his transition to the role of legislative affairs vice president.
“The main rule of the governance is the execution of the GSG ruling documents — constitution and bylaws,” he said. “So whoever takes over [this position], they should be familiar with the constitution and bylaws.”