Brian Wilkey and Vance Roper were president and vice president of Graduate Student Assembly for over five months, and they’re looking to more than double their time next year.
Wilkey, human development and family sciences graduate student, and Roper, public affairs graduate student, are running unopposed for re-election of GSA executive alliance. Wilkey, then-vice president, took office after GSA President David Villarreal stepped down in Aug. 2014. Roper was appointed vice president in September.
“Vance and I had a bit of a rocky start,” Wilkey said. “I spent a large portion of the first semester just kind of catching up to everything, and Vance was doing such a wonderful job. We kind of got into a swing of things in November, and then we decided, ‘Let’s have a whole year to do this.’”
Wilkey said GSA’s biggest accomplishment this year was restructuring their governing documents and passing the Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
“That was the idea that we could continue the projects we started and take it in a whole new level,” Wilkey said. “Our goal this year was to lay the ground work, and I think we’ve done a good job of that. It’s time to do a little bit of building.”
GSA’s weekly meeting attendance increased from about 15 members last year to between 30–40 members this year.
“After having such a great turnout in just the matter of four or five months, we’ve had control of the GSA, moving things forward,” Roper said. “I really wanted to see that go into the next year.”
If re-elected, Roper said he plans to continue increasing graduate engagement, as well as improving GSA’s communication with the other legislative student organizations, which are Student Government and the Senate of College Councils.
“I’m a big believer that we have a lot more in common than we don’t have, and I think it’s really time to reach across those lines,” Roper said. “I know, historically in the school, there’s been some divisions between the different [organizations], and I don’t think it needs to be that way. I think we have so many things we need to work on together.”
Wilkey said he aims to increase GSA’s funding next session, as well as advocate for graduate students in the legislature.
“I’m also very interested in taking the conversation of what graduate student life is to the campus, and also down to the capitol … about what it means to be a graduate student,” Wilkey said. “That we’re not here trying to hide from the real world; that we’re trying to become knowledge creators and policymakers.”