Graduate students will receive a new form of representation in Student Senate with the recently implemented graduate student body vice president position.
The vice president position replaces the former graduate affairs director as the graduate student representative within the Senate Executive Board. Senate voted to implement the position last spring after the bill was proposed by then-Graduate Affairs Director Pamela Johnson and other senate executives.
“I think having the title of being a vice president kind of points toward the kind of leadership you have in that you are that advocate for that specifically rather than someone who would seem to be just a director of what graduate students do or whatever policies they have,” said Student Body President Tiara Floyd.
Though the former and new graduate positions have similar roles within Senate, one of the biggest changes made was the appointment of the position. Previously, the student body president — typically an undergraduate student — would select the graduate affairs director. In the new role, appointments are instead made by the Graduate Student Advisory Board.
“It really allowed for graduate students to have more of a say of who’s going to fill that role,” said Graduate Student Body Vice President Chris Brown.
Brown, a Ph.D. student in sports management, said he applied for the position as a way of helping people while also delving into his passion for policy and legislative development. Brown earned his undergraduate degree at Colorado State University and was involved in student government. He then worked for the NCAA national office before coming to the University for graduate school in fall 2018.
“I get to help people, and I get to be a legislative nerd, which is what I enjoy,” Brown said. “So the opportunity to do this just seemed like the perfect fit for me.”
Within the role, Brown said he wants to address mental health and healthcare issues, along with other issues, relating to graduate students by working with Senate, the Graduate Student Advisory Board and other entities on campus. He also wants to push for more programming for graduate students to network and “feel a little more welcome to campus.”
“Chris has done a phenomenal job thus far in advocating for graduate student interest,” said Senate Chief of Staff Zach Thomason.
Thomason said in order for the role to have an impact on graduate students, future Senate administrations will need to commit to a multi-year plan to develop the role and allow for increased representation of graduate students.
“I think graduate students will look at that and say, ‘Okay, we have someone that is more specific in leadership and kind of understands,’” Floyd said. “It’s a strong leadership position rather than just someone who might be there for a few months and move on.”