University of Maryland government and politics doctoral student Autumn Perkey will serve as the GSG’s president for the next academic year, the assembly announced May 12.
Perkey served as the Graduate Student Government vice president of legislative affairs and speaker of the assembly in the 2021-2022 academic year. She has also served on the University Senate.
“I really hope we can find a way to increase the diversity of GSG through department participation and participation of other student organizations and making sure we are a voice that is representative for all graduate students,” Perkey said.
Some of the main areas of concern Perkey wants to work on during her presidential term are food insecurity, graduate student housing, mental health issues, collective bargaining efforts and graduate student parental issues.
Perkey is a rising fifth-year doctoral student with two children under age 10. She has learned to advocate for herself after having to juggle studying and parenting at the same time, Perkey said.
Perkey highlighted that one of the underlying benefits of collective bargaining rights is the possibility of guaranteed family leave. Currently, graduate students may get family leave, but it is not guaranteed.
Perkey and the rest of the new GSG assembly will begin their terms on July 1.
The GSG assembly also elected Jillian Rothschild to be its next vice president of legislative affairs. The government and politics doctoral student served as the GSG representative for her department this year.
Rothschild served as the elections committee chair this year and played a role in electing 23 new members to the assembly, many of who were from unrepresented departments, she said. She has also served on the legislative action and student affairs committees.
“The VPLA role is really crucial to making sure that we’re advocating not just for current GSG students and current grad students, but for all the grad students who will come after us,” she said.
Rothschild said that she supports collective bargaining rights for graduate students and will continue lobbying for them. She also wants to work on institutionalizing labor demands on a smaller scale at this university as students continue to fight for collective bargaining rights.
The assembly also elected Saleel Anthrathodiyil as the next vice president of financial affairs. Anthrathodiyil, an international master’s student, served as the fire protection engineering program representative and the chair of the community development committee this year.
Anthrathodiyil expressed support for collective bargaining efforts and also wants to address transparency surrounding this university’s student fees, he said.
“I want to run the office in a way that’s very receptive where I am completely open to feedback and criticism,” he said. “We should make the best result in the best interest of our graduate students.”
During its meeting, the GSG also unanimously approved the organization’s budget for next year, allocating more than $140,000 in total.
The available funding allocated to the GSG from this university amounts to roughly $125,000, which means the organization will have to use surplus funds from previous years to supplement the rest of the budget. The exact figures are subject to change.
The budget included funding for grants to be allocated to graduate students, a major change from previous years. The grant funding process has not been decided but the funds could cover things like travel costs to academic conferences and emergency funds for graduate students in need and also provide funding in other scenarios.