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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Few ballots mar GPSC elections

    Stephen Bieda feels a little disheartened knowing he’ll represent the concerns of 6,700 students when only about 7 percent of them took the time to vote in the Graduate and Professional Student Council elections last week.

    2008 Graduate and Professional Student Council Election Results

    President Stephen Bieda (363 votes)

    Vice President
    Boris Glebov (233)
    David Talenfeld (169)

    College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (1 seat)
    Jed Laver (19)
    Eirin Bareis (18)

    College of Humanities (1 seat)
    Erica Cirillo-McCarthy (28)
    Errol King (15)

    Other representatives elected:
    Alison Betts and Chizanya Mpinja (at large); Randy Vazquez (College of Architecture); Stephanie Levitt (College of Education); Robert Jacobi and Sanket Unhale (College of Engineering); David Lopez-Negrete and David Talenfeld (College of Law); James Johnson (College of Optical Sciences); A. Quadir Khan (College of Pharmacy, MS-Ph.D. branch); Kunal Ramani (College of Pharmacy, PharmD branch); Tim Chambers and Brittany Perkins (College of Science); Emily Connally (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences); Bridget Barker (Interdisciplinary Programs); Jim Collins (non-degree-seeking students)

    Colleges that did not receive representatives, due to a lack of candidates: business and public administration (non-MBA branch), fine arts, medicine, nursing and public health

    Interest in the elections was so low – with a total of 448 ballots cast – that Bieda ran unopposed, and several positions are still vacant.

    “”We did our best to publicize the ‘get out the vote’ campaign, but it’s not enough,”” said Bieda, a doctoral student in atmospheric sciences. “”When I was trying to get nominated, I realized that so many grad students weren’t aware of GPSC to begin with.””

    Only three positions – vice president and two representative seats – were competitive, having at least one more candidate than the minimum needed.

    Turnout dropped from 719 last year and 1,167 in 2006, when ballots included on a referendum to make GPSC, and not the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the primary representative of graduate and professional students.

    “”I think more should have been done to publicize the elections,”” said Mahdi Pessarakli, a second-year medical student, adding that they weren’t a priority for him because he had finals around the same time.

    “”I guess I would have voted if I thought it would have really made a difference,”” he said. “”But, I figure, what needs to get done will get done by whoever won.””

    Boris Glebov, a doctoral student in optical sciences, won the vice presidency, beating competitor David Talenfeld, a first-year law student, with 58 percent of the vote.

    Jed Laver, an architecture student, will represent the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, after beating out Eirin Bareis, a landscape architecture student, 19-18.

    Laver attributed his slim victory to networking, asking students to vote for him in person and then sending out e-mail reminders.

    “”I think it was just a matter of talking to more people,”” he said, adding that his role in the GPSC will be geared at informing students in the College of Architecture about funds and scholarships available to them, as well as what GPSC is doing for them.

    Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, a doctoral student in rhetoric, composition and the teaching of English, was selected to represent the College of Humanities, beating Errol King, a doctoral student in Spanish, with 65 percent of the vote.

    Bieda said raising awareness about what GPSC does for grad students, improving student health care coverage and raising salaries of graduate assistants will be among his top priorities.

    “”GPSC advocates for the rights of grad students, and it did that long before I was on the council,”” he said. “”They gave us health care agreements and full tuition remission (for graduate assistants and associates, which goes into effect the next academic year), and get our voices out there to the UA administration.””

    Due to a lack of candidates, no seats were allotted to represent the colleges of business and public administration (non-MBA branch), fine arts, medicine, nursing and public health.

    The newly selected students will begin their terms May 4 and will be sworn in at the April 29 GPSC meeting.

    Elections for secretary, treasurer and assembly chairperson will also be held at the meeting.

    Candidates that weren’t selected are considered alternate representatives, meaning they are non-voting members of the assembly and are considered for office first, should an elected official resign or become impeached.

    Alternates can also vote in place of the elected officer if he or she is absent from a meeting, said GPSC President Catherine Neish.

    Alison Betts, an English graduate student, and Chizanya Mpinja, a pharmaceutical sciences doctoral student, tied in the number of votes cast for the at-large position, filling two out of the necessary three positions needed.

    A special election will be held in September for the third at-large seat, in which alternates are also eligible to run.

    Alternates are also encouraged to sit on a GPSC subcommittee, Neish said.

    Mohamed Hegazy, a computer science graduate student who did not vote in the elections, said he has never understood GPSC’s purpose.

    “”I just feel I never really needed the GPSC,”” he says. “”Unlike undergraduate years, I don’t have much of the tuition or academic problems, and my focus is simply to get things done.””

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