Tamara Allard, a third-year psychology graduate student, will be the next president of the University of Maryland GSG, according to an assembly-wide email Tuesday.
The results follow a virtual election for Graduate Student Government president and assembly members. All university graduate students were eligible to vote.
As president, Allard hopes to work on boosting representation in academia, promoting graduate student mental health, lowering student fees and advocating for collective bargaining.
“I’m really excited to get to kind of dig down on these issues and figure out what the best solution is for graduate students and then be a strong advocate for them,” she said.
Allard has been a GSG representative since 2020, and has presented resolutions to support various graduate student interests, including one that asked departments for documentation to support vaccine eligibility.
She has also served as academic affairs committee chair and as a liaison to university President Darryll Pines’ commission to address women’s issues.
This year, Allard worked as a teaching assistant, GSG representative, student and researcher all at once. But the GSG president position is a full-time assistantship, Allard said, so she will be able to focus her efforts.
“I just may be able to focus my time so much better,” she said.
Allard is Latina, which has given her a unique perspective on issues in academia, she said. She plans to push the university to discontinue using Graduate Record Examinations as a requirement.
Some members of underrepresented communities consistently score lower on the exam, but the GRE is not associated with any form of academic success beyond a first-year GPA in graduate programs, Allard said.
Allard will also push for more funding to the counseling center, much of which could be allocated to hiring additional clinicians, she wrote in her candidacy statement.
“We need to make sure that [students] have access to resources that I don’t think that everyone has access to right now,” Allard said.
Allard wrote in her statement that she also plans to focus on DOTS’ accountability, quality childcare for student parents, access to student housing and increasing GSG membership.
Allard hopes to boost representation of departments in the assembly. One of the main reasons that some departments are underrepresented on the GSG, she said, is because there is no localized system to reach out across the board.
She hopes to spread information about the GSG through various listservs.
“It’s an advertising problem,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a lack of interest problem.”
This year, Allard has worked on multiple resolutions with government and politics representative Autumn Perkey.
Allard has been supportive and helpful in many of Perkey’s initiatives, including a resolution that asked for more support for graduate students who are parents, Perkey said.
In Perkey’s eyes, Allard has leadership qualities that will make her excel at the position.
“She’s just a really driven and charismatic person,” Perkey said. “I think this will be a great change in direction of leadership for the GSG.”