The re-election Question & Answer session began with the question “Why is there such limited involvement in the Graduate Student Association?”  The answer to this is often “apathy.” 

It is easy and simplistic to blame graduate students for a “lack of involvement.” Rather the question should be how can the GSA become more relevant to the concerns, needs and ideas of graduate students.  Apathy is too easy an answer.

I believe that the role of the GSA is threefold:

1) A source of essential funding and support for graduate students (Financial).

2) As an advocate for graduate students in a rapidly changing environment (Political).

3) A link between graduate students across disciplines and departments (Social).

I ran for President because I believe all of these roles can be strengthened by:

– Relatively simple clerical changes like making use of online forms.

– Applying our talents and skills as graduate students towards problem solving issues facing graduate students, UB and SUNY.

– Expanding and re-thinking how social events can build interdisciplinary engagement and enrichment.

Without defaulting to a Utopian position regarding the Internet and social web media we must consider the realities and positive aspects that the GSA can embrace and develop as an organization to be more relevant to the realities and needs of all graduate students.

We are spread over three campuses and something as apparently simple and effortless as picking up a form and returning it in person, being aware of budget cuts facing certain departments, or even just meeting other graduate students becomes very difficult.

Last year while further researching the GSA before running for President,  I visited every GSA club website listed on the GSA site. I was struck by how the Graduate Indian Student Association (http://www.gsa.buffalo.edu/gisa/) had not simply built a webpage within the narrow construct of being a graduate student club, but had created a site that offered support and advice for current and incoming graduate students.  For me this has become a model for considering the GSA as a whole.

The GSA can be more than just a funding body, it can become a way to connect our professional and personal interests enriching our educations and supporting each other from routine things like “where to live” or thinking about the future of the public research university.

The shortened time period of the e-board term is not a pre-condition for doing less but if anything for doing more.  The members of the executive board are responsible for the future legacy of the GSA.  To constrain one’s vision and responsibility simply to the number of days in one’s term is a tragically limited notion of the responsibilities and possibilities of the e-board and the GSA.

5,000 graduate students is a significant number.  Collectively we can support each other and offer creative alternatives to the decisions being made in Albany, by SUNY and here at UB.

Olivier Delrieu-Schulze

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