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‘We’re not powerless’: GPSS discusses workplace dynamics and mental health resources

Joseph Dicklin
GPSS President Christine Cain talking to the crowd for the Feb. 26, 2024, Senate meeting in the Memorial Union’s Campanile Room.

GPSS President Christine Cain spoke about the death of former GPSS President Chelsea Iennarella-Servantez and said it is “extremely serious” every senator save the mental health resources presented on by Student Helath and Wellness earlier in the meeting.

“You should have those numbers for crisis because the chances of you personally, one of your students coming up to you in your courses or labmate coming [to] you in a moment of crisis is extremely likely,” Cain said. “If you are not prepared on at least who to call or for example, those walk in hours, if they tell you they’re in crisis, you can physically walk them over [to Student Counseling Services].”

Cain said Iennarella-Servantez sued “a member at Iowa State” about a “sexual relationship and lines that were crossed” but added that there was not sufficient evidence “for that case to move forward.”

“You can’t change the way other people act and there will always be politics, there will always be power dynamics, but we can change the way we advocate for ourselves and protect ourselves,” Cain said.

Senators further discussed the topic during open forum by exploring ways to “empower our peers” and remove the fear from international students of “being kicked out.”

“We’re not powerless, even though it feels like it most of the time,” Cain said. “We really want to move forward with working and figuring out what’s going on on campus so we can make it a better place for all of us.”

Following Cain’s executive report about Iennarella-Servantez, GPSS Health and Wellness Officer Kimia Noroozi, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering, said a resolution will be drafted to “drive university support actions for student mental health and struggles.”

Mental health resources

Student Health and Wellness mental health promotion and suicide prevention strategy specialist Melanie Reed presented to the Senate about available mental health resources.

“It appears sometimes that our graduate students are least likely to know about the resources on campus, whenever there’s any support that’s needed,” Reed said. “Most of it is more reactive than proactive, to accessing resources.”

Those resources can be found on and A 24-hour crisis text line can be accessed by texting HELLO to 741741 and the suicide and crisis lifeline can be called at 988.

Iowa State Student Counseling Services is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday on the third floor of the Student Services Building.

StuGov presidential candidates campaign

Both Student Government presidential campaigns were given five minutes to present to the Senate. President Jennifer Holliday and her running mate Student Government Sen. Sydney Jones both spoke about their campaign’s platform while GPSS and Student Government Sen. Azhan Suddle, a graduate student in chemistry, presented for their absent opponents, Finance Director Martin Hursh and his running mate Vice President Quinn Margrett.

Holliday, a senior in agricultural studies, said they have a platform point of “working with graduate and professional students” because “not all graduate students feel seen by Student Government.”

“Something that has been voiced in many different areas to us includes the need to have more programs, lectures and opportunities for students to get involved at times that are more convenient for you all,” Holliday said.

When Cain, a graduate student in education, asked if the Hursh/Margrett campaign had a specific platform point for graduate students, Suddle said two platform points that benefit graduate students are establishing an international career fair and a roommate compatibility form.

The Student Government elections will take place March 5-6, and ballots will be emailed to students’ Iowa State email addresses.

Both Cain and GPSS Vice President Eddie Mahoney, a graduate student in computer science, emphasized the importance of graduate students participating in the election.

Additional measures

GPSS Treasurer Kean Fallon, a graduate student in mathematics, introduced a new allocation process for GPSS that would remove ledgers and allow student organizations to apply for funding once every month. The measure could be approved during their next monthly meeting.

Mahoney said that Chad Garland was chosen to be the new Memorial Union director following the conclusion of the university’s selection process. According to previous reporting by the Daily, Garland’s experience includes serving as the University of Colorado senior director of student life and event services, Miami University associate director of Armstrong Student Center and Central Michigan University assistant director of events and conference services.

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