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GPSF heard from 4 of the 6 student body president candidates

GPSF Meeting_Selects4
During the open forum part of the GPSF Senate meeting held in Chapman Hall on the evening of February 7th, Student Body President Candidate Joe Nail gives a 7-minute presentation to the audience and takes questions on a wide variety of issues relevant to graduate and professional students in all departments at UNC.

The Graduate and Professional Student Federation met on Tuesday to vote on 12 bills and resolutions as well as to hold a 2017 student body elections open forum.

GPSF President Dylan Russell provided an update on the plan for the student government split.

“Tonight we’re going to Congress with a new plan," Russell said. "This plan will allow us to vote for the Board of Trustees seat — in the past, it would always be the undergraduate — and so now graduate professional teams can actually serve as the (Board of Trustees) representative."

Russell said this plan was made with student leaders including Speaker of Student Congress Cole Simons and Student Body President Bradley Opere.

“We sat down together, we made a lot of compromises and concessions and we have a plan that we hope is going to work best for all students while still maintaining a clear split,” Russell said.

Russell introduced a constitutional amendment reorganizing the executive branch to increase its efficiency.

“Our main concern is that the executive branch is just too large right now," Russell said. "There’s no way to consolidate all that information and so we thought by having policy heads, and we also thought it would be nice to have a system like the undergrads have, we could create a legitimate advisory and maintain student representation."

Brian Coussens, GPSF vice president for internal affairs, introduced an amendment to redefine the Senate’s powers.

“Basically, it’s taking the Senate’s powers which are currently spread out all over the Constitution and putting them in one spot and additionally, it’s adding in the new powers that the Senate will have under the joint constitution with the undergraduates,” Coussens said. “So we will now have the power to approve bylaws of independent agencies across the University.”

GPSF passed several other constitutional amendments covering election rules and guidelines, summer governance, executive reporting and representative unit duties. It also changed the name of the organization by adding the word “the” before the organization name and by adding the position of comptroller.

Four candidates for student body president — Elizabeth Adkins, Travis Broadhurst, Matthew McKnight and Joe Nail — discussed issues concerning graduate and professional students. The candidates emphasized the importance of a smooth transition concerning the student government split as well as increasing representation for graduate and professional students on the Board of Trustees.

GPSF senators brought up several issues concerning teaching and research assistants for the candidates to consider, including stipend amounts, health insurance and maternity leave.

The 2017 candidate for GPSF president, Madelyn Percy, discussed the GPSF's agenda for the following year. She said GPSF should advocate on behalf of graduate and undergraduate students outside of the BOT and support student-led outreach efforts. 

Percy said GPSF should focus on bringing data-driven research regarding stipends to the BOT and work to reduce student fees for graduate students.

“I think that we have lots of opportunities to really point out the awesome work that's done here at Carolina," Percy said. "Let’s turn that into an immediate monetary return to be sure that we are not having to just pay up the wazoo."

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