GPSS sees bill on unionizing, sets new executive cabinet


Biong Biong

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate meet on the last Monday of the month.

Editor’s note: This article incorrectly attributed a quote from Vishesh Bhatia and has since been corrected. The Daily regrets this error.

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) saw a bill requesting the body to support unionization efforts for graduate and professional students. There was a discussion on the bill, which indicated the majority of the body would support unionization with the exception of some contentions from senators.

Unionization Effort of Iowa State University Graduate Student Workers

This bill presents an opportunity for the senate to work alongside Graduate Student Voices, a group of graduate students who are organizing unionization efforts on campus.

The bill represents an opportunity for graduate and professional students to vote for or against unionization, like the one currently at the University of Iowa.

Senator Vishesh Bhatia, representing animal science, voiced his worries about academic freedoms being taken away from professors and mentors who might feel threatened by this unionization.

Student Government Senator Eddie Mahoney, a graduate in computer science, suggested an amendment to the bill clarifying GPSS’s neutral stance on graduate student unionization.


The GPSS elected the following to their respective roles, with all the senators running unopposed:

  • GPSS President Christine Cain, a graduate student in education, was reelected as president of GPSS.
  • Mahoney was elected as vice president of GPSS.
  • GPPS Senate Information Officer Garrison Gunter, a chemical and biological engineering graduate, was reelected.
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Kean Fallon, a graduate student in mathematics, was elected as treasurer of GPSS.
  • Alladassi was confirmed as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences College Chair.
  • College of Design Senator Katie DuVal Mihelich was confirmed as the College of Design College Chair.
  • College of Veterinary Medicine Senator Charity Njeshi, a biomedical sciences major, was confirmed as the College of Design College Chair.
  • Ivy College of Business Senator Swati Kumari, a graduate student in information systems and business analytics, was confirmed as Ivy College of Business College Chair.
  • Senate Engagement Officer Efraín Rodríguez-Ocasio, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering, was reelected as senator engagement officer.
  • GPSS Conference Officer Ryan Everett, a graduate student in English, was reelected as conference officer.
  • GPSS Wellness Officer Kimia Noroozi, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering, was reelected as wellness officer.

Additional Measures

The senate moved to reestablish the contracted position of Social Media Chair.

GPSS has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Discord, with no plans to expand to other platforms.

The social media chair would report to the senate information officer and represent a non-senate paid position with which the Senate contracts.

The GPSS also moved to create the College Chair Council and expand the responsibilities of the student engagement officer.

“I think the main benefit we get from [college chair positions] is our reach into the different academic units and the ability to hear what’s going on in the colleges,” Rodríguez-Ocasio said.

The College Chair Council allows the college chairs to collaborate and foster interdepartmental initiatives and solutions to issues that might not get brought to GPSS.

The student engagement officer, an executive officer of GPSS, will be the communication bridge between the GPSS as well as guide meetings without the ability to vote.

Feedback from college chairholders highlighted a need for more guidance, and the student engagement officer would fill that role, according to Rodríguez-Ocasio.

The GPSS established an executive officer position and a permanent standing committee dedicated to graduate and professional student inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA).

“The reason we should have a separate [IDEA Officer] is because of some of the unique situations that graduate students face in relation to discrimination,” Cain said.

The IDEA committee would offer to fund student organizations to host initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

The GPSS also moved to approve a budget revision for the fiscal year 2023. The finance committee presented this new budget proposal in response to new positions and increasing funding for current committee members and student organizations.

GPSS Treasurer Juan Panelo explained the various interconnected sections of the budget and reassured the senate about the increase in spending.

The current model is sustainable for the next 15 years,” Panelo said, adding that it’s important to fund the new IDEA positions and other initiatives that the senate thinks will help graduate students.