Grad Student Government

New Graduate Student Government announces May launch


8:52 a.m., April 2, 2012--Beginning in early May, graduate students at the University of Delaware will have a new preeminent governance organization, the Graduate Student Government.

As befits its status as a government, the new organization will have an executive branch, headed by a president, as well as a legislative branch, the Graduate Student Senate. 

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The senate will be headed by a parliamentarian as prescribed by the new Graduate Student Government constitution formally approved during the March 8 meeting of the Graduate Student Senate.

The first officers to serve in the new Graduate Student Government will be elected in April and sworn in at the May 10 meeting of the Graduate Student Senate, after which the approved governance changes will become operative.

“These changes will provide for a lot more inclusion in the government for graduate students,” Emily Bonistall, president of the Graduate Student Senate, said. “Previously, membership was technically limited to senators, and we thought it should be more inclusive.”

By changing to a government, every one of the University’s 3,600 graduate students will become members of the Graduate Student Government, Bonistall said. 

In addition to officers and senators, membership levels will include:

  • General level comprised of all UD graduate students;
  • Members-at-large level, where those interested may join committees and attend meetings and chair committees; and
  • Organizational level delegate. 

The executive branch includes committee boards for internal affairs and student affairs, and an executive council comprised of the Graduate Student Government president (and chair), vice president of internal affairs, vice president of student affairs, a membership officer and a recording secretary. 

The senate will be the legislative body of the Graduate Student Government and will consist of one voting student senator from each of the academic plans of the graduate and professional schools of the University.

New roles include the creation of an election committee that will standardize the election process, and the addition of senate parliamentarian.

“The president is in charge of the whole government, specifically the executive branch,” Bonistall said. “The parliamentarian will run the senate. This balances the power of the president.”

Standing committees of the senate will include communications, diversity, events, governance, social, student life and sustainability. The senate also may assemble special ad hoc committees as needed. 

Individuals interested in advocating on behalf of UD graduate students may sit on certain committees within the Graduate Student Government, or on University-wide committees, including the UD Faculty Senate Graduate Studies Committee and the Diversity and Equity Committee.

“Besides opportunities for advocating, there is a wide range of programming events where graduate students may work with others in the UD community,” Bonistall said. “We see this as way for us to be involved with various graduate student groups and for them to have a voice in the government.”

Organizational delegate status will be offered to graduate students from UD-recognized student organizations whose constituencies may not be adequately or formally served by senators from regular academic departments. 

Delegates cannot represent multiple organizations or both a department and another organization at the same time, and do not vote. 

Bonistall said that in recent years there has been a significant increase by the graduate student governance organization to work with administrators in the UD offices of the President, Provost and Graduate and Professional Education, as well as with various deans on campus-wide committees.

“We have a group of student leaders who care about graduate student life and work tirelessly to make UD a better place for graduate students,” Bonistall said. “We want the UD community and the administration to know that we are here on behalf of its graduate students.” 

Getting involved in the Graduate Student Government is a great way to serve the UD community on many levels, meet new graduate students outside your department and make new friends, she said. 

“Whether you are interested in service, planning events or advocating on behalf of the graduate students, this organization is a great way to get involved,” Bonistall said. “Whatever it is you are passionate about, we have a niche for you.” 

Students interested in getting involved with the GSG can email for more information.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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