GSA President: a term in review
Returning to campus this year, we were still reeling from the effects of the Delta Wave and it was anybody’s guess as to whether or not we would be able to offer the programming we hoped to. But, the energy we saw amongst the students during orientation quickly made those fears evaporate. As a matter of several firsts, we held the first ice cream social during orientation since 2019, hundreds of graduate students were able to see the Pirates in September, we held in person Legislative Action Days on Capitol Hill, and we wrapped up the semester with the biggest Fall Formal event we’ve had the opportunity to throw since 2019. In Spring we held our Ski Trip after a pandemic pause, we held our first Trivia Night since 2019 at Golden Age Brewery, and joined by over 1000 Carnegie Mellon graduate students, we held Wine Tasting for the first time in three years.
But, this was only part of what we did last year. During Summer of 2021, the GSA Executive Board worked with Provost Garrett and several members of the university leadership to identify and take a holistic approach to doctoral education at Carnegie Mellon. We identified several areas that were crucial but missing from currently offered support. Following this, we worked with the Deans over the next several months to put part of this holistic support plan into place with the commitment from university administration to adopt the remaining support mechanisms over the next few semesters.
Recently, our VP of Academic Affairs worked closely with University IR&A to run a doctoral advising and workplace safety survey to assess if we had seen any improvements in doctoral advising since the Taskforce on CMU Experience’s recommendations were delivered to the university. Our Campus Affairs Committee, led by our VP of Campus Affairs, worked with the Undergraduate Senate to run a Dining Survey to better understand the dining experience and needs of Carnegie Mellon’s students. Now, we’re following up on the findings with advocacy to improve Carnegie Mellon’s dining offerings. Our legislative advocacy is once again brought to the halls of Congress rather than the virtual halls of Zoom. Members of the external affairs committee have advocated for several bills in the House and the Senate, many of which are on track to become law by the end of this year. They wrote statements for the record in several Congressional hearings, and endorsements of several other bills that were signed on by student governments at numerous other universities across the United States. Personally, I am excited that legislation I helped craft in 2020 was introduced this year and became the backbone of the America COMPETES Act which was passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate passed its own version, and now the two chambers are resolving differences through a conference committee.
In addition to all these efforts, GSA’s efforts to improve Carnegie Mellon’s voter registration and turnout were recognized at the All In Awards Ceremony, and later by Vice President Kamala Harris who sent a letter encouraging us to continue doing the work we’ve been doing. I take pride in all we have accomplished this year. We faced several challenges along the way, but we overcame them as a team. I could not be more proud to have worked with our GSA Department Representatives whose efforts allowed us to accomplish so much. Now, I say, is the time to celebrate these achievements. But, tomorrow, we must get up and fight for more.