Graduate Student Assembly

Graduate Student Assembly is the official graduate student voice to the UT administration, the Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature. Members of the organization formally address specific graduate student concerns.

Candidates are sorted alphabetically by last name.

The winners of their respective elections are highlighted in red.

By Junyuan Tan and Amy Zhang

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Select a    
  • President / Vice-President
then choose a  
  • Wills Brown & Francesca Cicero
  • Warner Cook & Eloise Boisjoli

  • Sahil Bhandari & Michael Scott*
  • * This candidate has been disqualified from the race as of Tuesday, March 1. More information will be provided on this page once it is received. An appeal has been filed with the ESB.


Wills Brown & Francesca Cicero

Courtesy of Ray Flores

Wills Brown & Francesca Cicero

President / Vice-President

Statement

Hello! We are Wills Brown and Francesca (CheChe) Cicero, and we are running for GSA President and Vice President because improving the lives of students is what we came to UT to do! We are both first year master’s students in the Higher Education Administration program, and we work in student affairs, because we are passionate about helping students thrive and succeed. We believe that higher education is the way to change people’s lives and better the community at large. All graduate students are busy -- we believe GSA would benefit from leaders with the knowledge, experience and passion to improve lives for all grad students on the 40 Acres.

Hailing from Dallas, Wills completed his undergraduate work at UT in 2013 and went on to join Teach for America in San Antonio. During his undergraduate career, he served as Student Body Vice President for the 2012-13 academic year. In this position Wills fought to improve student life on the 40 Acres in various ways, including implementing 24-hour access to the PCL during fall and spring semesters and founding the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency of Student Government to empower student entrepreneurs.

While Student Body Vice President, Wills also chaired the Student Services Budget Committee, which oversees the allocation of $42 million in student fees to campus divisions. As one of only a few student members on UT's Faculty Council, Wills has unique and extensive experience working with students, staff, and faculty. Throughout his time in Student Government, Wills built strong relationships with UT administration, which will serve all grad students well if we are elected.

Francesca is on her second graduate degree, having received a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. As a law student, she worked to integrate law students into the greater San Francisco community with volunteer opportunities. Then, as a trial attorney, Francesca advocated for the needs of her clients before judges and juries. She also represented the needs of associate lawyers in her firm to the organization’s governing board, successfully obtaining additional compensation and maternity leave for all associates.

As a first-generation college student and first-generation American, Francesca experienced the power higher education has to radically change one’s life, and chose to leave the field of law in order to improve higher education for all students. She will use the skills she gained as an attorney to advocate to the UT administration for the specific needs of graduate students and make our voices heard by the Texas Legislature in the upcoming 2017 session.

In sum: we eat, breathe, and sleep student affairs, and GSA would definitely be more than a part-time job to us. We want to help improve communication, foster collaboration, and better campus conditions for all UT graduate students.

Platform

Platform Highlights

Our views on: STUDENTS

Grad Student Resources: As hard-working graduate students, we are expected to perform at the highest levels. We will work to effectively allocate funding and resources available for grad students in every program.

Social: At such a large university, we can get mired in the silos of our individual colleges. We will implement programming (such an an annual Grad Prom event) to develop grad student social connections across UT, expanding social circles and opportunities for collaboration.

Health: High levels of stress require grad students to work under pressure with multiple other demands on our plates. We believe there should be a larger focus on allocating resources to help grad students thrive and stay healthy, both mentally and physically.

Our views on: CAMPUS

Facilities: With the ever-increasing cost of rent in Austin, we as graduate students have a harder time than ever living near campus. We will focus on increasing transparency and our involvement with graduate student housing and facilities to ensure our input is valued in the planning process.

Transportation: Grad students live off-campus in many different neighborhoods, and often have to work late into the night. We should be able to get home safely and conveniently - if elected, we’ll work to ensure better parking and transportation options for all.

Safety: Graduate student safety is one of our top priorities. We will focus on mitigating these concerns through an emphasis on improving access to mental health facilities and partnering with Student Government's SURE Walk to create a mobile safety app for all students.

Our views on: COMMUNITY

Communication: Grad students balance a myriad of demands. If elected, we will focus on centralizing pertinent information, using the GSA website and social media, so that you don’t have to.

Collaboration: Understanding the diverse disciplines and viewpoints of all grad students is a difficult task, but we are up for the challenge. Our community would benefit greatly from bringing these voices together to build a better future for us all. We plan to ensure that graduate students have permanent seats on pertinent councils such as the Student Services Budget Committee and the University Budget Council.

Outreach: UT has reach beyond just the 40 Acres. We want to make sure that grad students have opportunities to engage and give back to their Austin community.

Our views on: FUTURE

Civic Sensibility: The Texas Legislature will be in session during the spring of 2017. We want to ensure students’ viewpoints are brought directly to the legislative body who are making the decisions that impact all of us: tuition costs, benefit packages, campus carry (we strongly OPPOSE campus carry), and student debt.

Innovation: The University of Texas is truly a place that can change the world, and UT grad students are a major part of that change. Students should have an incubator space and support on the main campus to make our big ideas a reality.

More Inclusive Campus: We are a diverse community in many ways. As President and Vice President of GSA we will work to ensure that UT is a place where our differences are respected and celebrated. We'll push for more Gender-Neutral restrooms across campus and create new agencies of GSA (a Women's Resource agency and a LGBTQ agency) in order to better partner with UT's Gender and Sexuality Center.

Leadership: Many grad students are here to become leaders in their disciplines. We will work to create more outlets, such as undergraduate mentorship opportunities, for grad students to further enhance their leadership abilities.

Please check out our website for our more detailed platform!


Warner Cook & Eloise Boisjoli

Courtesy of Rachel Zein

Warner Cook & Eloise Boisjoli

President / Vice-President

Statement

Both:

⇒ We have a shared experience record of active participation in the GSA of 5 years, the most of any executive alliance.

⇒ We have an awareness of the unique challenges for both professional and academic graduates students.

⇒ Through our experiences in the GSA, we are already familiar with the current methods of implementation for GSA initiatives.

Warner (President): I’m passionate about the changes I’ve seen myself creating through the activities I have already participated in through the GSA and I feel that as President I would have the exciting and unique opportunity to oversee and coordinate initiatives that I see my fellow students getting passionate about. As president I would be able to help other people affect the changes they would like to see on campus. In the capacity of President I intend to thoughtfully and actively represent the graduate student voice; I am good at listening, both to students wants and needs, and also to the people with whom I might disagree. In my current roles, I routinely speak with University deans and directors and representatives from the City of Austin, so I look forward to the opportunity to continue developing these relationships and make new ones, and to demonstrate effective communication about and representation of graduate student concerns and voices.

Ellie (Vice President): I’m running for your vice-president because I really really like UT, and I want to see this place become even better, as my last few years on the GSA have proved can be done! I feel that I can help our community improve through the role of vice president by sharing my energy, my attention to detail, and my passion about issues. In the capacity of vice-president I would continue to ensure efficient and brief meetings of the GSA. Understanding that Robert’s Rules helps to create a well-oiled machine, but that it can also be overwhelming for new participants, I would offer regular Robert’s Rules primers before meeting to nurture a welcoming and accessible environment.

Platform

"Our platform is to A.C.T. :

We want to continue the ongoing improvements to the workings of the GSA by improving ACCESSIBILITY

primarily through the updating how the GSA utilizes technology to communicate both internally and with the wider graduate student body by creating a permanent position on the executive board to solely responsible for managing GSA’s technological presence by working with the Rules and Administration committee establish a digital history of the GSA; and by establishing a regularly recurring Robert’s Rules before meetings to continue efficient and accessible procedures and yet create a welcoming and environment. We want to continue to improve our Graduate student COMMUNITY by continuing to develop and support the Graduate Student Housing Committee, which Warner currently co-chairs, advocating for affordable and conveniently located graduate student housing that meets a range of graduate student needs and lifestyles; by spotlighting transportation as a major concern for graduate students, specifically improving bicycle infrastructure, such as bike lanes and safer parking facilities, and shuttle route frequency and connectivity;

by supporting and encouraging graduate student activism, writing effective resolutions representing graduate student voices, and providing a central location for graduate students to communicate their messages; and by ensuring graduate students participate in the inevitable rewriting of University admissions and operational policies. We believe that diversity make us stronger, that graduate students learn more from a wide variety of peers, and that we benefit from outside perspectives both in the classroom and once we leave campus, and we want an admissions policy that reflects this.

We will urge the University to increase TRANSPARENCY in its interaction with incoming and current graduate students

particularly through the ongoing work of the Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities committee, on which Warner also serves, by continuing to operationalize more explicit policies for good-faith protection of graduate students. Targeted efforts include grievance processes, non-discrimination, and ongoing representation in discussions that affect graduate students; and through working with established University offices, by increasing available information about tuition, funding, and cost-of-living in Austin, creating a more transparent process for incoming graduate students as they consider a graduate education at UT Austin."


Contributors

Frontend/backend development: Junyuan Tan | Editorial and Data Collection: Amy Zhang | Landing page: Adam Humphrey | Director: Tom Li