GPSC to hold officer elections Tuesday

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Marnie Leonard

The Graduation and Professional Student Council officer elections kick off April 25 with steep budget cuts on the horizon for the university in the midst of a state budget impasse approaching the two-year mark.

The Daily Egyptian interviewed the candidates for president, vice president of administrative affairs and vice president for student affairs via email and asked the following questions:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What are you studying? Are you working toward a master’s degree or a Ph.D.?
  3. Did you get your undergraduate degree at SIU? If not, where did you get it?
  4. Do you have a graduate assistantship? If so, what is it?
  5. Have you held any positions with GPSC in the past? If so, what position?
  6. Why do you think you would be a good choice for the position(s) you’re running for?
  7. What do you think GPSC is currently doing well? What could it do better?
  8. What do you hope to accomplish if elected?



Candidates for President:  

1. Johnathan Flowers*

Where are you from? 

I am from Oak Park, Illinois. My parents’ home is about three blocks away from Austin, which is to say that I walk three blocks and I’m in Chicago proper.

What are you studying? Are you working toward a master’s degree or a Ph.D.?

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy. Specifically, I am working on using Japanese aesthetics and American Pragmatism to engage with gender as affective, something that is felt. The easiest way to explain it is to point to the assumption that gender is ‘performed,’ in the sense that one performs a role on stage. But even when we’re performing, we’re crafting an image, and this image can be changed based on the performance that enacts it. Further, how we come to craft the image performed is based on the social context of a given individual. It’s actually more complicated than that, but that is the gist.

The other thing that I am working on is a kind of ‘phenomenology of institutions,’ which draws on the work of John Dewey, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Sara Ahmed to look at the way in which institutions ‘do’ things or ‘put things in place,’ and how people in those institutions experience those institutions. As an example, we can look at this institution’s mission of ‘access’ and ‘affordability,’ and how the members of this institution experience “access.” In a more practical sense, how do graduate students experience their ‘access’ to university services and activities? How do women at this institution experience their ability to ‘access’ support structures? How does the experience of ‘access’ change across the different people who are moving around in the institution?


In terms of other stuff that I do, I have an interest in philosophy of education, specifically through John Dewey and Paulo Frerie, and the way in which they focus on education from an experiential perspective. Basically, I am concerned with how students experience the education that they have, in many cases, paid thousands of dollars for. Are students engaging with curriculum in ways that enable the application of the things that they learn in creative ways, or are they just learning how to answer questions? Are education institutions sensitive to the different cultural, social and economic contexts that affect how students engage with curriculum, or do they adopt a one-size-fits-all approach?

I also do a fair bit of work in areas of philosophy of popular culture, feminist phenomenology, phenomenology of race and philosophy of technology. I presented at the first annual Comic Crossroads Columbus, which is a comics studies conference put on by the Columbus College of Art and Design and I’m a two-time presenter at the Comics Arts Conference: once at San Diego Comic Con and more recently at Wizard World Anaheim. The Comics Arts Conference is the academic portion of Comic Con that allows Comic Con to retain its non-profit status. I’m also on the organizing board for the upcoming Values in Medicine, Science and Technology Conference, which is a conference that focuses on philosophical issues in the fields of medicine, science, and technology, specifically where ethics are concerned.

In addition to my dissertation, I have a book review pending publication, a book chapter pending publication, and two other book chapters in the review phase. I was also recently published in the College of Education’s graduate journal, Journeys, which can be found online.

Did you get your undergraduate degree at SIU? If not, where did you get it?

I did; I got my Bachelors of Arts in English and my Bachelors of Science in Journalism from SIU. I also got my Masters of Arts in Philosophy from SIU and my Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from SIU. I have lived through the reign of Big Rita [Rita Cheng] and I have seen almost every recent chancellor pass through the institution and the kind of damage that those chancellors’ lack of vision have done to the institution. More specifically, I have seen the way that the instability in the administration has contributed to many of the problems that have been compounded by the current budget situation.

Do you have a graduate assistantship? If so, what is it?

I have two assistantships: one through the WGSS department and one through the College of Education. I teach multicultural perspectives on women and diversity in education. Both of those courses challenge my students to think about the multiplicity of identities in a variety of contexts, through my students are not always happy or comfortable with the conversations had. However, one of the things about growth, intellectual growth specifically, is discomfort. How we learn to deal with the discomfort that accompanies growth often determines what we will learn from the course.

Have you held any positions with GPSC in the past? If so, what position?

Prior to becoming Vice President for Graduate School Affairs, I was the Department of Philosophy representative to GPSC as well as being one of four Graduate Council Representatives to the Graduate Council. As Grad Council Rep, I served on the Education Policies Committee, the Graduate Enrollment and Recruitment Taskforce, the Academic Prioritization Joint-Task Force, and the Non-Academic Program Prioritization Task Force. I have also served as GPSC Rep to the Core Curriculum Advisory Committee, and the Core Curriculum Diversity and Inclusivity Committee.

As Vice-President for Graduate School Affairs, I have served on the Search Committee for the Interim MCMA Dean, which I eventually chaired; I served again on the Graduate Enrollment and Recruitment Taskforce, where I came to co-chair the Domestic and Diversity Sub-Committee, which eventually generated a report on ways to increase recruitment at the graduate level that was submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School; and, I served again on the the Core Curriculum Advisory Committee, and the Core Curriculum Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. I eventually replaced Willie Lyles III as the GPSC rep to the Diversity Council, and I currently serve on the search committee for the Associate Chancellor for Institutional Diversity.

I have served on several other committees as part of my work with Graduate Assistants United, including the Chancellor Search committee.

Why do you think you would be a good choice for the position(s) you’re running for?

This is a complicated question. With regards to the position of Vice-President for Graduate School Affairs, I am a good choice for the position because I have done this job for the past year and have accomplished every objective that has been set for me, or assigned to me. Moreover, I have used the position of Vice-President for Graduate School Affairs to preserve and expand the services offered to graduate students through its relationship with the Dean of the Graduate School and the Graduate Council Executive. I have pushed the Provost, the Graduate Dean and the Interim Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs to engage in the development of more comprehensive support structures for graduate students including more graduate centric programming and support structures, like writing support and additional [Counseling and Psychological Services] support for graduate students.

For example, with the support of the other Graduate Council Reps, I passed a resolution requesting the creation of the Coordinator of the Diversity Advisement, Recruitment and Fellowship Office at the Graduate School, which is a position charged with recruiting and serving all underrepresented groups in the Graduate School. To be clear, this position has a mandate to ensure that we increase the number of underrepresented graduate students attending this institution, including women, and provide the necessary support structures for those students as they move through the university. Support structures also includes financial and social support structures.

I additionally pushed the Graduate Council to fulfill its charge to develop a committee to develop mechanisms for faculty mentorship, which includes investigating the fate of University Women’s Professional Advancement, an organization that served to develop women at this institution for participation in academic and professional fields, graduate students included. I also helped draft a resolution at graduate council that charged graduate council with ensuring graduate student participation in all diversity planning at the institution. The interesting thing about this resolution is that it also includes “institutional planning generally” in its mandate, which basically means that Grad Council should invite GPSC to participate in institutional planning exercises that the council is charged with. So far, they’ve fulfilled this responsibility.

As for why I would make a good president? I will carry all of the energy that I put into the Vice-President for Graduate School Affairs position into the office of the Presidency. Crucially, I will continue to work towards preserving graduate education, assistantships and support structures at this institution through my commitment to advocacy and transparency.

To give a concrete example of my commitment to the support of graduate students: if I am elected as president of GPSC, I will give up half of my graduate stipend to create an additional funded position within GPSC. My commitment is to the students: I am not seeking this position for the money, nor the stipend, nor any of the other ‘perks’ of the job. I am seeking this position because of my commitment to serving the graduate student population. I don’t need the money to do this job.

As president, I will continue my ongoing effort to bring the concerns of the graduate student body, no matter how trivial they may seem, to the administration. Too often we dismiss valuable ideas on the basis that they seem impossible on the surface, without considering the potential advantages of the suggestion.

As an example, when I was tasked with revising the most recent GPSC resolution concerning the budget situation, I was asked to remove a section on initiating research on marijuana. The council laughed at the suggestion, but I brought it to the attention of the Graduate Council executive, specifically Jim Garvey, who informed me that the institution once considered developing a research initiative concerning marijuana. Garvey further clarified that initiating such a project in the current cultural climate might bring revenue into the institution, specifically with the increased interest in medicinal uses of marijuana and that it might be worth considering. However, the idea might not be considered if no one took the time to present it as a legitimate suggestion to an administrative body.

A better example might be my drafting of a resolution for access to research facilities for graduate students. Something that grad students have been concerned about is their inability to gain access to research spaces to complete their degree work. After taking the matter to [Graduate School] Dean Lee, it was determined that the most effective way was for the Graduate Council itself, or one of its sub-committees, to engage with the issue such that a mechanism or a policy concerning access to research spaces can be developed. This resolution has been passed to the Graduate Council Research Committee for development and will be engaged with at the next Graduate Council meeting.

As president, I will also use my position to remind the institution that the graduate student population and the graduate school itself lack the necessary resources to do their best work. Twenty percent of the Provost’s budget is tied up in Admissions and Recruitment; this twenty percent does not include graduate recruitment and retention. The Graduate Dean has no access to these resources, which could be directed towards the growth of the graduate student body. As part of this demand for resources, I will continue to point out that all the institution’s attempts to increase or develop new mechanisms to support its students do not account for the needs of graduate students. There are not graduate student writing centers, all of the health and wellness programs are centered on the undergraduate experience, even faculty training and mentorship programs are geared towards an undergraduate model. One of my responsibilities as president will be to point out the ways in which the institution is not serving my constituency.

As president, I will also continue my staunch opposition to budget measures that further damage graduate and professional student education at this institution. As an example, during my participation on the Non-Instructional Program Prioritization Committee, I stood in opposition of recommendations to reduce the graduate school, as the committee declined to consult Dean Lee for his advice; I stood against the recommendation to merge [Center for Teaching Excellence] with the office of information technology, as this was based on the perception that CTE was only responsible for the maintenance of the D2L system and not responsible for graduate assistant orientations; I stood against the recommendation to merge the admissions and enrollment efforts of the Graduate School, the Center for International Education and Undergraduate Admissions into one unit because this is an impossible task given the different responsibilities of these offices.

Further, while opposing the budget measures that will damage graduate education, I will push the institution to develop measures internally that allow for the maintenance of the institution’s graduate resources in a situation of fiscal crisis. In my view, while the institution needs to be reshaped to survive the duration of [Gov. Bruce] Rauner’s term, this reshaping should not be at the cost of graduate education and the graduate support structures. The only way to ensure this is to inform the graduate and professional student body of the potential changes and allow them to weigh in on this. This means that I will continue to subject the GPSC general body to my thirty minute reports, but I will also publish these reports on the GPSC website so that all graduate and professional students, even those who are not representatives of their departments can remain informed of the institution’s actions.

Finally, I believe that I would be a good choice for these positions because I understand the institution, its structures, its politics, its policies, but I am not willing to make the “happiness” of the administration my cause. I am unwilling to follow an administrative mandate if it results in harm to the graduate and professional student population. My cause is the safety and security of the graduate and professional students and the resources that allow them to fulfill the objectives that they have set for themselves.

What do you think GPSC is currently doing well? What could it do better?

GPSC currently does a very good of keeping its constituents informed of the activities of the institution and soliciting their opinions, however, it could do this job much more efficiently. GPSC has trouble soliciting representatives from some of the ‘service’ areas: as an example, GPSC needs more representation from the College of Education, College of Art, MEDPREP and several other departments that we have had difficulty recruiting representatives from. To solve this problem, it may be necessary to enlist the support of the deans and the chairs and Directors of Graduate Studies in all departments so that they inform their students through their list-servs that this representation is necessary.

Now, I am not naïve: I would not simply rely upon the administrative structures to reach out to departments. GPSC can submit messages through the Office of Student Engagement, the Graduate School and through our own list-serv to drive participation. Moreover, I would continue my predecessors’ attempts at making fully available all materials and minutes from GPSC meetings by following the structures of the Board of Trustees and Faculty Senate websites: resolutions, statements, agendas, and minutes will continue to be posted on the GPSC website for the campus community to view. It is my position that the transparency of GPSC is one of its greatest strengths, and I will make every effort to maintain this transparency.

Now, GPSC could do a much better job of including our international graduate students in GPSC activities, as well as addressing the concerns of the non-traditional graduate students. One of the things that I have consistently encountered is the inability of administration and, occasionally faculty, to recognize the needs of these populations. Part of the problem is the fact that GPSC has not done a good enough job of reaching out to these groups to determine their needs and integrate them into our advocacy. This will be more important in the coming academic school year as the support services for these vulnerable groups are at risk and must be protected.

GPSC could also do a much better job of reaching out to the School of Law: while we do have representation from the school of law through the Student Bar Association, and the School of Law has historically provided members to Graduate Council, much of GPSC’s activity is centered around the main campus. Now, this might be a result of the way in which the Law School has different reporting lines, different academic structures, but they are still part of the graduate and professional student body and their views need to be heard, specifically with regards to the way that the institution develops plans for the budget. As an aside, I never received an answer to a question posed to the Academic and Non-Academic Prioritization committees as to what impact these recommendations would have on the school of law.

GPSC could also do a better job of collaborating with the other constituency bodies: while GPSC represents the graduate and professional student body, we are but a fraction of the campus. If GPSC can work successfully with Graduate Council, Faculty Senate, the A/P Staff Council, the Undergraduate Student Government, and the Black Faculty and Staff Council and Hispanic and Latino Faculty and Staff Council, then we may be more effective at advocating for a reshaping of the institution that maintains the students at the center. While I have established some of these relationships, they need to be strengthened.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

The survival of graduate and professional education at this institution for as long as I am in office, full stop. Ideally I would like to say “expansion of membership”or any of the other idealistic claims that presidential candidates are supposed to make, but the reality of the situation is that my sole responsibility as president would be to defend the integrity of graduate and professional education on this campus, and to ensure that they have all the resources available to complete their graduate education, as well as addressing the failure of the institution to consider the health and wellbeing of its graduate and professional student population.

To be clear, this includes the restructuring of existing services so that they take into account the graduate and professional student experience; this includes addressing the very real problems on this campus of supporting and mentoring graduate and professional students and ensuring that they have a campus climate that does not marginalize them; this includes forcing the administration to think of the graduate and professional students as people and not simply resources to be managed; this includes reminding the administration that we need to think of the institution as a whole institution, and not a collection of discrete parts. My job is to prevent the institution from doing any more damage to the graduate student population through their attempts at ‘financial sustainability.’

More specifically: no graduate or professional student can be expected to do their best work in a climate of social and fiscal instability, and it will be my sole responsibility to ensure that the institution provides graduate and professional students stability through the protection of resources, including graduate assistantships, and the provision of information that allows graduate and professional students to make informed decisions about their future, and the future of this institution.

Finally, none of these aims can be accomplished by GPSC or its president along: one of the things I hope to accomplish is the generation of collaborative working relationships with other constituency bodies and populations on this campus. While GPSC has the force of Board of Trustees policy behind it, GPSC will be much more effective at advocating for its constituency with the support of other groups on campus.

*Flowers is also running for the position of Vice President for Student Affairs.

2. Jonathon Howard*

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Northern California, Sacramento region, for most of my life. However, I have traveled through many states in my life, and held residence in just as many states. It is probably better described that where I am from geographically would be closely associated to the Pacific Northwest.

What are you studying? Are you working toward a master’s degree or a Ph.D.?

I am currently an advancing 2L [second year law] student here at SIU School of Law. This coming fall semester will start my final year at SIU unless I choose to also complete my MBA work here. My degree is a professional degree, Juris Doctorate, specifically, so it is neither a master’s nor a Ph.D. However, I am researching a Ph.D. option in the Business School here.

Did you get your undergraduate degree at SIU? If not, where did you get it?

No, I completed my undergraduate degree as a non-traditional student at Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah. ‘Non-traditional’ means that I took a break from school to work and live life. Why, you ask, did I choose to return to school? Well, put simply, the life of working in the everyday market, including starting my own small business back in 2006, always carried limitations to growth. I have always held a passion in the realm of law and specifically local politics, being very active in the local political landscape of every state I have lived in.

Do you have a graduate assistantship? If so, what is it?

No, as a law student here at SIU I am limited in the number of available GA openings or positions. While I would love more access to GA positions, it is the way the establishment had set things before I came here. My hope is that once I become the President of GPSC, I can collaborate with the Dean of Graduate Students and the Chancellor’s Office to help identify and procure more GA positions. Collaborative learning of undergraduate students from graduate student peers fosters growth in learning and application skills.

Have you held any positions with GPSC in the past? If so, what position?

I have held many positions and roles since my start in GPSC during the 2015/2016 school years; I actually advanced further responsibility. During my first year, I volunteered on the Intercollegiate Athletics Administrative Committee (IAAC). This experience was very lucrative for me to establish an idea of what role the Athletics officers and offices play for both regular, traditional students; but also our international students here playing for the Salukis.

Also during my first year I began drafting resolutions and networking with USG [members] to gain a better understanding of their needs and how graduate students may assist them. I sat as the chair of the Student Trustee Election Board and applied my knowledge in election rules to attempt to maintain a fair and neutral election. During my second year I expanded my responsibilities within GPSC to include continued work with the IAAC, appointment to the Executive Board of GPSC, and also winning Vice President of Student Bar Association at the law school; this put me in control of appointing co-students from the law school into positions within GPSC. Same for the 2016-2017 school years: I fulfilled advancement of my role at GPSC by winning election to the Graduate Affairs Committee. Finally, I have been instrumental in drafting the new rules and guidelines for the Student Trustee Election Committee, and the letter to address the Trustee Board, SIU President and administrators about proper steps they should take in relation to the budget crises plaguing our school.

Why do you think you would be a good choice for the position(s) you’re running for?

Why elect me as your next President of GPSC? Well, that’s simple to explain; I have been active in all aspects of the GPSC office, as one of my opponents has been as well. What sets me apart are my extensive years of experience in the political arena across the states. I know how to identify when certain movements are going to accomplish the desired outcome, but also my networking and communication skills allow for better working relationships for our constituents. Can I say for sure that things will immediately improve here at SIU? No, that is unobtainable and I will never employ the tactics of some of our administrators or existing presidency to short sell the problems we are facing.

I see that we, as a graduate student government, need to work hand-in-hand with not only USG and the faculty; we also must develop and strengthen the relationship with administrators and the trustees of the school. Under my leadership, I will make the administrators more accountable for their role in the budget issues. We can work through this collaboratively and meet the demands of the students to continue the school’s educational endeavor.

What do you think GPSC is currently doing well? What could it do better?

While it is easy to say that some of the steps are going well now, I can’t agree that it all has been [going] well. I personally feel that we could do much more and many things much better. While currently they are sympathetic to the situation of the budget shortfall, I feel that the message isn’t being delivered correctly to create more effect of the will of the students at SIU. I also feel that we could do far more to gain more participation of the graduate body represented on our campus.

We could improve collaborative efforts with other [registered student organizations], USG, administration and faculty. It always appears to me that the fingers are pointed somewhere or at some person, but action isn’t strong to get those questions answered. I think that we need, as GPSC, to become more public on the campus work we do, and hold ourselves out to be the leaders and peers of the lower class population.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I hope to increase membership to GPSC from all of the underrepresented graduate students and schools on campus, enact the newly created rules for the Student Trustee Election I authored and reduce the influence of administration attempts to control student run elections. I hope to bring a diversity and inclusiveness week on campus for all students to work together and learn of the cultures that make our diverse student body and improve communications with administration. This is very important; our current campus administration views our work with the lowest regard because of weak communication.

I will work especially hard to make the campus administration, trustees, president and our local politicians feel the concerns and worries of our entire student body on the SIU Carbondale campus and push for a reduction of administration and president pay until they get in there and turn around this school’s problems. I don’t subscribe to the administration’s suggestion to cut programs, I feel before we cut faculty we should ensure they trim their own fat first.

*Howard is also running for the position of Vice President for Student Affairs.

Candidates for Vice President of  Administrative Affairs:

1. Dianah McGreehan

Where are you from?

San Antonio, Tx.

What are you studying? Are you working toward a master’s degree or a Ph.D.?

I am a second year Ph.D. student in Communication Studies.

Did you get your undergraduate degree at SIU? If not, where did you get it?

My B.A. is from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and my M.A. is from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

Do you have a graduate assistantship? If so, what is it?

My first year at SIU I was awarded the Graduate Dean’s Fellowship and I am currently a Teaching Assistant for the department of Communication Studies. I teach CMST 101 – Introduction to Oral Communication, as well as CMST 280, Business and Professional Communication.

Have you held any positions with GPSC in the past? If so, what position?

I have been a GPSC Member  from 2015 to 2017, on GPSC Executive Committee from 2016 to 2017, a GPSC Fee Allocation Board Member from 2015 to 2017 as well as the following:

GPSC Research Award Selection Committee — 2015 to 2017

GPSC Research Award Selection Committee, Chair — 2016 to 2017                                         

GPSC GPSCares Selection Committee — 2015 to 2017

GPSC Diversity and Inclusivity Committee — 2016 to 2017

GPSC Select Committee on USG Student Grievances — 2016 to 2017

Non-Traditional Student Advisory Board Member, GPSC Representative — 2015 to 2017

Graduate Council, GPSC Representative — 2016 to 2017

Graduate Council Program Review Committee — 2016 to 2017

SIU Graduate Academic Grievance Committee — Spring 2017

USG/GPSC Legislative Road-Trip — Spring 2017

Why do you think you would be a good choice for the position(s) you’re running for?

I believe I would be a good choice for the position of GPSC Vice President for Administrative Affairs because of my dedication to service, as well as my involvement with the Fee Allocation Board these past two years. I have worked closely with Willie Lyles III this past year and understand the goals and challenges this position will face during the upcoming Academic Year. I am honored to be nominated by Willie Lyles III for this position.

In addition to my academic service through GPSC, I have also solicited non-profit funding as the Director of Corporate for Support for KRTU 91.FM and as the Chair of the Education Committee for the San Antonio Chapter of the American Advertising Federation.  

What do you think GPSC is currently doing well? What could it do better? What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Each year, GPSC reserves a significant portion of its budget to support Graduate and Professional Student development through travel funding, event funding and research award funding. GPSC has also advocated for the support of its constituents through multiple resolutions, representation and strong communication with SIUC administrators.

Although GPSC has successfully supported graduate and professional students through these resources, I feel the lack of student involvement with GPSC can be improved. All Graduate RSOs may select a representative to participate on their behalf. All graduate RSOs are presented with this opportunity, but not all RSO’s are currently involved. The increased involvement by graduate and profession students will allow GPSC to better serve and represent the interests of these students. It is important for students to be aware of the challenges faced by the university which will have direct impact on their experiences as Salukis.

If elected to the position of Vice President for Administrative Affairs, I will seek opportunities to increase the budget allotted to career development travel funding, event funding and research awards. In addition, I would like to see funding supporting GPSCares throughout the 2017 to 2018 academic year. I will aim to achieve this through additional fundraiser opportunities which will also serve to create awareness for the services provided by GPSC.

2. Kevin Horn

Where are you from?

I am from Pennsylvania and have also lived in upstate New York.

What are you studying? Are you working toward a master’s degree or a Ph.D.?

I am working toward a Ph.D. in Zoology, studying the evolution of segmented worms.

Did you get your undergraduate degree at SIU? If not, where did you get it?

I received a B.S. in Biology from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. I also have a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, and a M.Ed. in Secondary Instruction from Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

Do you have a graduate assistantship? If so, what is it?

This semester I have a teaching assistantship in the Zoology Department. I am the TA for Parasitology.

Have you held any positions with GPSC in the past? If so, what position?

I have served as a GPSC representative for the Zoology graduate students for several years and I have served on the Fee Allocation Board and the Executive Council.

Why do you think you would be a good choice for the position(s) you’re running for?

The position I am running for oversees the budget and the Fee Allocation Board. For most of my time with GPSC I have served on the Fee Allocation Board, and during that time I have worked with several sets of GPSC officers and two university administrations. Many of the current GPSC policies, particularly in regards to funding requests, arose or were modified while I was serving on the GPSC Fee Allocation Board.

I was involved in many of these policy discussions and know why and how they came about. I think my knowledge and experience can provide a valuable frame of reference going forward so that we do not repeat mistakes we may have made in the past. In an organization such as GPSC with a high rate of turnover, institutional memory is an extremely valuable resource.  

What do you think GPSC is currently doing well? What could it do better?

I think this past year GPSC has done a good job of advocating for more diversity and inclusivity on campus. I also think they have done a good job advocating for the graduate students to the administration and conveying information about administrative proposals to the council members.

GPSC could do a better job raising awareness of who we are and what we do, and I think event funding plays an important role in that. With our limited event funding we have to make sure we get as much as possible in terms of quality of events, number of events and the exposure we get from those events. I also think GPSC could do a better job working with the administration on proposals that are mutually beneficial. Sometimes this might just mean framing the issue so the administration can better understand the impact it could have on things like recruitment and retention.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

If elected my primary goals would be to make sure we are getting the most, in terms of educational and professional development opportunities for graduate students, out of the money we spend on event funding and to grow GPSC by reaching out to departments with no representatives currently on the council. I would also like to improve our outreach to the Carbondale community.

Candidates for Vice President for Student Affairs: 

1. Clay Awsumb

Where are you from?

I am originally from Belleville.

What are you studying? Are you working toward a master’s degree or a Ph.D.?  

I am a Ph.D. student in Sociology.

Did you get your undergraduate degree at SIU? If not, where did you get it?

My bachelor’s and master’s are both from SIU Edwardsville.

Do you have a graduate assistantship? If so, what is it?  

I am a GA Instructor; this year I am teaching Introduction to Sociology, and last year Racial and Ethnic Relations in the US.

Have you held any positions with GPSC in the past? If so, what position?

This academic year I served on the GPSC Executive Committee and was chair of the GPSC Investigatory Committee on USG Grievances.

Why do you think you would be a good choice for the position(s) you’re running for?

With as many challenges as SIU and our graduate and professional students face right now, as VP of Graduate School Affairs I can offer our constituents and the institution itself an enduring and undistracted dedication to ensuring the promises, mission and delivery of enriching, productive and effective graduate and professional academics remain at the center of any discussion, evaluation of policy and of primary concern in outcomes.

What do you think GPSC is currently doing well? What could it do better?  

GPSC is currently doing well to maintain its strong advocacy for graduate and professional constituents and education across a number of areas diversity, employment, sponsored research and professional development opportunities, inclusion, etc. and continuing to build necessary relationships with stakeholders across the campus to achieve our goals.

However, I would like to see us improve our outreach and incorporation of constituency groups and engage in more direct advocacy that re-aligns administrative decision-making with the mission scope of graduate and professional education, enriching and developing of graduate and professional students’ academic experiences through mentorship, professional development and research.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Apart from the two areas I see opportunities for and a need to improve, as Vice President of Graduate School Affairs, I would work to accomplish greater transparency and communication from the administration, so as graduate and professional students are more involved in and aware of the decisions being made, what those are, and why they are being made, in response to or in context of the particularly challenging moment in which SIU is currently.

2. Johnathan Flowers

See his answers in the ‘President’ section.

3. Jonathon Howard 

See his answers in the ‘President’ section.

Staff writer Marnie Leonard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @marsuzleo.

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