Newly elected University of Maryland GSG President Joey Haavik hopes to amplify the voices of his fellow graduate students while increasing the visibility of what the student government can do for the 2022-23 academic year.

Haavik, an international education policy graduate student, was elected May 8 and will begin their term July 1.

During the past year, Haavik served on the Graduate Student Government’s international student affairs committee where he won an outstanding member award.

Haavik said this new position in the GSG will allow them to apply their studies.

Haavik also hopes he can be a connecting force for the work being done at this university.

“I really want to be present as a connector, as someone who links many initiatives that happen throughout campus, to hopefully continue the work also of my predecessors,” Haavik said.

Because this university has a large number of offices and resources, Haavik believes the GSG should “deal with some of the bureaucracy.” If a student wants to launch an initiative, Haavik said they want the student government to help that student find the right office to work with or connect them with others who have similar interests.

One of Haavik’s main concerns is the financial struggle of many graduate students.

“That is one priority, to continue to allow for some more breathing room for graduate students financially. Whether that means to continue pushing the conversation around increased graduate stipends or taking away some of the fees that we are asked to pay every semester,” Haavik said.

In the 2022-23 academic year, graduate students will pay at least $314 in fees per semester. One specific fee Haavik wants to eliminate is the athletics fee, which he said benefits the university more than graduate students because they tend to not use the resources it funds, such as free student tickets.

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Although they recognize some fees improve student activities and opportunities, Haavik said community members should be critical of the university and ask if fees are truly helping students.

“Is there a different way in which the university can take these fees instead of kind of tacking them on afterwards, after the tuition?” Haavik asked.

Another one of Haavik’s goals is to provide more opportunities for students to share, present and work together on more interdisciplinary research projects.

Haavik also said he would like to continue to offer one-on-one meetings students can schedule with the GSG president to hear their concerns and ideas.

“If I’m gonna be a representative for these graduate students, I want people to be able to find me,” they said.

To improve the visibility of the GSG, Haavik said he wants to focus on social media for larger university updates and to reach more students. Additionally, he wants to connect with the leaders of graduate organizations throughout this university to consolidate their efforts and initiatives.

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Haavik is currently meeting with the outgoing GSG president, Tamara Allard,to discuss the history of the university and graduate students and to learn institutional knowledge and techniques to improve the lives of graduate students.

“He’s been really excited to learn, and I think that that will make him a good president,” said Allard, a developmental psychology doctoral student.

The new executive team also discussed ideas and plans for the upcoming year, such as helping graduate students register to vote before the midterm elections and the push for collective bargaining.
Lizzie Irlbacher, the new legislative affairs vice president for the GSG and a political science doctoral student, said the executive team would also like to work to ensure the GSG has a more physical presence on campus to reach its constituents.“A lot of people don’t know that we have an office on campus, that there’s people here full time to help you as grad students manage different aspects of graduate school,” Irlbacher said.

With their term about to begin, Haavik said they are excited to connect with the student body in their new role.

“I’m really just looking forward to engaging with more students on campus. I think it’s the main reason why I want to do this,” Haavik said.