2020-21 GSA Officer Elections

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 9:00 AM

The 2020-21 GSA Officer Elections will take place online from Monday, May 25 at 8am until Thursday, May 2‚Äč8 at 4pm. You will be able to vote online by using your UCSB Net ID. Below is a list of Officer Candidates on the 2020-2021 ballot.

For a list of the Fee Initiatives and Reaffirmations already voted by the graduate student body last April, please visit here.

Here is a list of the candidates for the officer positions for 2020-2021 and their  candidacy statements:

Internal Co-President

Pedro Craveiro, Spanish and Portuguese
Hey Gauchos! My name is Pedro, pronouns he/him/his, and I am an international graduate student in Hispanic Languages and Literatures. I am honored to be nominated for the position of Internal Co-President for the 2020/21 academic year and I would love to have the opportunity to work at a different level and commitment at the Graduate Student Association.

I served as Graduate Student Representative for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and participated in the GSA General Assemblies and activities two years ago, ensuring that graduate students in my home department were heard and included in university decision-making. In 2019, I got elected to be VP of Communication and Records and I served as chief information officer and as public relation officer and archivist. In other words, I was responsible for spreading GSA information, circulating graduate students’ available resources, reaching out the Department Graduate Student Representatives, and ensuring that GSA Assembly meeting minutes were recorded and published, among other things. During my term, I have accomplished some tasks such as rebranding the GSA communications, archiving all records since the 70s according to university policies, launching a resource packet for all graduates in a partnership with the Graduate Division and the Graduate Student Resource Center, and also having 44 departments out of 45 represented at the GSA. Being assigned for this position, gave me the chance to get a close relationship with my fellow graduates, to shape and mediate the relationship between faculty and graduate students, and organize several events during this academic year.

As Internal Co-President and in coordination with Alex LeBrun, current VP of Academic Affairs and nominated for External Co-President, I will work hard to do my best and address all your questions, concerns, and feedback. I know from personal experience our financial hardships (fellowships, housing, Summer funding) and difficulties throughout our academic path. Moreover, I will do everything to elevate graduate student’ voice, speak up for your welfare, and fight for your interests. My goal is to humbly help building our sense of community and inclusivity. I look forward to continuing being part of this incredible organization for graduate students on-campus and to contribute to the GSA in facilitating graduate students’ community and the campus. I ask for your support this electoral season. Thank you!

External Co-President

Alex LeBrun, Philosophy 
I am running to be the External Co-President alongside Pedro Craveiro (as Internal Co-President). I am currently the GSA Vice President of Academic Affairs, and I hope to carry into next year the lessons learned about the GSA from my time serving on the board this year. As we all know, most of the 2020-2021 year will have as its primary obstacle the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Santa Barbara has not yet been hit hard by the virus, many in the community think it is only a matter of time. To that end, I will be dedicating as many resources to aiding graduate students as possible. This spring, your GSA Executive Board diverted all available funds to give directly to graduate students affected most by the pandemic, worked with on-campus housing to ensure that the most vulnerable graduate students have places to live, and helped pass the year-long extension for graduate students. These, and so much more, are what I hope to achieve for graduate students.  While resources are in short supply these days, and -- we all know -- graduate students are not the priority of those who allocate resources, I will fight to get graduate students as much as I can. 

Vice President of Budget, Finances, and Committees

Emmanuela Schoinoplokaki, Classics
Hello fellows! I am an international Ph.D. student at the Department of Classics. It is a great honor for me to be nominated for the position of Vice President of Budget, Finance, and Committees for the 2020/21 academic year, and I am determined to work in this office with integrity and transparency.

This year, my position as Graduate Student Representative for my department enabled me to not only represent my home department in important decisions at every GSA General Assembly, but also to gain significant experience about how the GSA operates. At the same time, being a member of the lively GSA community has been a constant source of inspiration for me throughout the year, providing a space to build relationships with amazing fellow graduates, all while exchanging ideas and views about common issues in meaningful ways. Most importantly, it became clear to me that the GSA’s presence has a beneficial impact on both the academic and personal life of all graduate students.

After a thorough discussion with the current Vice President of Budget, Finance, and Committees about the duties of the position, I realized that it would be incredibly rewarding to contribute to the immediate support of graduate students. I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the GSA and all graduate students and particularly those underrepresented, so that they have financial assistance in these especially difficult times.

If elected, I will work to voice the concerns and questions of UCSB graduate students, working with a collaborative spirit to facilitate committee operations, and enable an efficient distribution of available funds and resources towards the strengthening of the GSA organization and of the wider graduate community. To help me do this, I kindly ask for your support this electoral season. Thank you very much!

Vice President of Communications and Events

Maya Zaynetdinova, Global Studies
Originally from Moscow, Russia, I have lived in the United States for the past 5 years. I am a second year PhD in Global Studies. Prior to coming to UCSB, I worked at the United Nations and Global Citizen, an international NGO aimed at ending extreme poverty. I joined the GSA board in the late Fall of 2019 to fill  the position of VP of Student Affairs which was vacant at that time. As VP of Student Affairs, I made sure the voices of graduate students were heard in regards to the issues of student health, insurance and housing. Throughout my short but eventful time in the office, I represented the interests of our graduate students at the UC SHIP local and state-wide meetings, organized a virtual town hall for San Clemente Residents, worked with the Housing and Community Services to provide housing resources, advocated for more housing at the property provider meetings, and worked with the Basic Needs team to ensure graduate students are aware of the resources available to them. 

This election cycle, I would like to challenge myself in the new role of VP of Communications and Events to be more engaged with the graduate student body. I have held multiple leadership positions at UCSB campus and beyond that directly relate to the duties of this role. Last year, I served on the Graduate Student Apartment Community Council (GSACC) where my job was largely devoted to organizing events, such as Halloween, an Oscars watching party and ice cream socials for the San Clemente Apartments community. I plan to apply my experience in organizing events to the entire graduate student body through GSA events. I am also very familiar with digital communications and social media management, as I worked as a Digital Campaigns intern at Global Citizen and VP of Public Relations at Toastmasters International. If elected, I will be in close contact with the former VP of Communications, Pedro, to make sure I follow the high standard he set for providing relevant and timely information for graduate students. I have developed a good relationship with the rest of the board as well as got a better understanding of how university administration works which makes me a perfect candidate for this role. 

Vice President of Graduate Student Affairs

Jordan Tudisco, Comparative Literature 
Hello everyone! My name is Jordan, my pronouns are they/them, and I am a non-binary graduate student in Comparative Literature. I have been nominated for the position of Vice-President for Graduate Student Affairs for the 2020/2021 academic year and I would absolutely be honored to work for the Graduate Student Association and represent graduate students in matters of housing and health insurance, among other things.

In my past academic years at UCSB, I have served as a Graduate Student Representative for my home program of Comparative Literature both on the GSA General Assemblies and on my program’s faculty meetings. As such, I was able to ensure that the needs and interests of my fellow CompLit graduate students were listened to, both within my program and at the university-wide level. This past year, I advocated on behalf of my peers during our program’s External Review Committee Visit in the Fall and managed to bring much needed changes to our examination structure in the Spring. In addition, I have acted as a point-of-contact and mediator for COLA issues, successfully managing communication and crises (threats, retaliations, breach of contracts, etc.) between graduate students and faculty in Comparative Literature, French & Italian and German & Slavic. I am also responsible for Education & Outreach on the Queer and Trans Graduate Student Union board and work as a Graduate Fellow for Education Initiatives at the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which both allow me to advocate for the representation, inclusion and safety of LGBTQIA+ folks on this campus.

As VP of Graduate Student Affairs, I am looking forward to being able to represent the best interest of the entire graduate student population at the university level. As a former international student (I have become a Permanent Resident since moving to the US from France) and as a queer and trans student, I know from experience how important issues of housing and health insurance are, not only for these two often underserved communities, but also for Black people and people of color, indigenous people, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, people with children and/or dependents, undocumented people, and many others among us. In our current Covid-19 crisis, these issues of housing and health insurance are even more important and are often synonymous with our very survival. I am very involved in making sure that the needs of everyone are expressed and listened to during the large systemic and structural decisions that very often impact us negatively and I will fight for the well-being of our entire graduate student population. I truly believe in a model in which answering the needs of the less privileged among us uplifts all of us as a community. I am looking forward to taking part in the work of inclusivity, representation and community-building that the GSA has been conducting these past years. I hope you will grant me your support in this electoral season! Thank you!

Vice President of External Affairs (Choose One)

Konnor McMillen, Education 
My interest in running for Vice President of External Affairs stems from seeing the need for strong student advocacy, as well as system-wide coordination to achieve effective change. As a student pursuing my Master’s degree in Education Policy, I am both invested in and passionate about the work that is required of the EVP. I have served as the Legislative Liaison of UCSB for the past eight months, and assisted the previous EVP with legislative initiatives, advocacy day planning, and representing UCSB at the UCGPC meetings. During this time, I planned two advocacy day trips for graduate students and set up meetings with state and national representatives to discuss issues that are at the forefront of the graduate student experience. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, those trips were cancelled; however, we have pivoted to virtual advocacy during these trying times. I have seen and experienced firsthand the amount of work, dedication, and stress that goes into the job of EVP, and can confidently say that these past eight months have prepared me to hit the ground running upon entering this role. There is a learning curve for this position, but from my time as Legislative Liaison and attending UCGPC meetings, I believe I am a strong fit for the position of EVP. While all graduate issues are important, there needs to be an understanding that not everything will be able to be accomplished in a one-year span. With that being said, there are three main issues that I would like to address and make progress on during my time as EVP: 1) Housing—a universal issue in the UC system, we need to deliver solutions from a united front in order to apply pressure to the UCSB and UC administrative offices for more affordable options; 2) Post COVID-19 relief—the next EVP will be stepping into a post-COVID-19 world, which more than likely means cuts to the education budget, and limited financial resources for undocumented and international students. Having experience working with policymakers and student leadership groups like UCGPC and CoP will be beneficial in overcoming these challenges; and 3) Helping to build UCGPC presence—the University of California Graduate and Professional Council is a system-wide student leadership group composed of graduate and professional students from the UC campuses. This organization is new but has potential to grow into a powerful and influential student advocacy network. I believe it is in our best long-term interest to stay in UCGPC and help build a strong organization. The next year is going to be unprecedented and critical, but I believe with effective leadership and strong student advocacy, we can make headway on the institutional barriers in the University system. It would be my privilege to represent UCSB graduate students in the fight for equity and inclusion on our campus and across the UC system.

Felicity Stone-Richards, Political Science 
I am running for the position of Vice President of External Affairs. Throughout my time at UCSB, I have come to understand both the campus specific and UC-wide structural problems that affect graduate students at this institution and I would like to represent the needs of UCSB graduate students at the UC-wide level. In my time at UCSB I have engaged in graduate student advocacy at the departmental level, as co-President of the Political Science Graduate Student Association. While in this position, my co-president and I brought all our graduate students together to draft a Bill of Rights and a concrete list of demands and reforms for faculty to act on. We have been maintaining pressure on faculty this academic year to implement these reforms. At the university level I have been a committed activist within the COLA movement, organising my peers in my department, lobbying faculty for support, and communicating our needs to UCSB administration. I am deeply committed to the COLA movement, and I believe the long-term success of this movement can only be achieved through UC-wide, long term advocacy, which I have the skills and temperament to follow through with. Those who know me, know that I am disciplined in my research (both academic and bureaucratic) and always maintain an even temper under stressful situations. The UC system is heading towards a period of severe austerity, and graduate students will need to fight even harder to protect our working conditions and standard of living. I am prepared and committed to this fight for the long haul. I believe in the work the GSA does and am excited to work for an organization that fights on behalf of all graduate students at this institution.