Brian Wilkey

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

After months campaigning for increased graduate student housing, members of the Graduate Student Assembly said they are hopeful administrators will approve housing plans in the near future.

GSA’s Graduate Student housing committee began administering a housing survey to graduate students in February at the request of the UT administration, and more than 2,300 students responded. GSA president Brian Wilkey said the University administration has responded positively to the results of the survey.

“Our data was presented to the Graduate School and President [William Powers Jr.] has come to address at the GSA saying that the likelihood of the housing being approved is high,” said Wilkey, human development and family sciences graduate student, in an email. “This means we’re simply in a holding pattern until approval is given.”

Joy Wyckoff, psychology graduate student and committee chair, said most graduate students who responded to the survey said they felt affordable housing should be provided by the University.

“The majority [of] graduate students felt that it was important for UT to provide graduate student housing,” Wyckoff said in an email. “One reason is because many people found it difficult to find off-[campus] housing when they first came to UT.” 

Once the Graduate School drafts a plan that is approved by the University, Wilkey said they will send the plan to the UT System Board of Regents for approval.

GSA Vice President Vance Roper said he believes implementing new housing off campus seems fairly feasible, although finances are always an issue. 

“The challenges are less [about] getting approved … because the University is behind this,” said Roper, public affairs graduate student. “The biggest challenge is detailing what kind of housing do you get. That’s a big bulk of the problem … the nuts and bolts.”

The survey also asked students about their housing preferences, including room size, price and location. The committee and Graduate School have looked at placing the housing in nearby neighborhoods, Roper said. 

Wyckoff said affordability is one of the main issues graduate students face when looking for housing.  

“This is an important issue for graduate students, especially as rent prices are increasing in Austin,” Wyckoff said in an email. “Students also are moving from far away (only 11% of survey respondents were already living in Texas), so having graduate student housing option would make the transition to Austin smoother.”

Although the University does not have graduate-student-only housing, it currently operates three off-campus University apartment complexes, each approximately six miles south of campus. According to the Division of Housing and Food Services, the apartments are traditionally reserved for graduate students, student families and undergraduates.

Earlier this month, the GSA renewed the committee for another year so that they can continue to address the issue, Wilkey said.

Editor’s Note: Graduate students Brian Wilkey and Vance Roper were recently elected president and vice president, respectively, of the Graduate Student Assembly. They served together part of this year after David Villarreal stepped down from the presidency early last semester.

Daily Texan: Why did you decide to run again for president? 

Brian Wilkey: Vance and I had an interesting year, both of us starting from different positions. By the time I took office in August, David [Villarreal] had stepped down. By the time we got caught up, it was November. I had only two and half months where I could effectively be working. That’s not a lot of time to do things. But Vance and I have felt we made a great partnership, we are very proud of what we have done. We believe the next steps of GSA are very plain before us, and we thought they are the right direction to take, so we thought, “Let’s do this another year.”

DT: Speaking of change there’s a lot coming to UT. How do you handle the transition to the new president [of UT], the recent transition to a new chancellor and to new leadership beyond UT?

Wilkey: The main job as [GSA] president is relationship building. I look forward to those chances to build relationships, with the new president [and] the new chancellor to make sure that from the start, the concerns of the graduate student body are being heard. I am looking forward to delving in with the relationship with the new Student Government and some college councils. 

DT: Do you think graduate student concerns are being better heard now than they were this time last year?

Wilkey: I think part of it is just that we are little more organized. You have a lot of people talking about graduate student concerns, but some of those concerns are housing, some are stipends, some are academic grievance processes, but if we all yell at the same time, no one is going to hear what needs to be done. Vance and I came in and made a big deal of organizing and made sure we spoke in a resolute voice with the message that we wanted to say. By that standard, I think yes, graduate students are being better heard. I think the same concern raised last year are being raised this year, but we have new and more innovative ways of discussing that with the policymakers and the administrators. 

DT: Can you say more about that?

Wilkey: For example we have the housing committee. Approximately 2,400 responses [came back] from its recent survey. Considering 12,000 graduate students and professional students, that’s about one out of every six for a group that for the most part doesn’t participate  in the University traditionally. This committee reached out to the constituents and made sure they participated. We have people sitting on different committees now that weren’t represented by us before. 

We found some better ways to get everyone engaged. Because every graduate student has a concern. COLA’s very concerned about TA stipends and TA positions, and we are trying to make sure that COLA organizes a college council, just like the graduate student engineering council, a place for them to be just graduate students to make sure they are sharing best practices.

DT: How likely do you think it is that new graduate student housing will be built in the near future?

Wilkey: No administrator is going to say is going to happen in the near future. Everyone is going to tell you the party line is just planning right now. We have no idea. I know it’s a big project which a lot of people are passionate about, so it’s hard to believe that we are not going to see progress.

DT: So maybe first we’ll see improvement in existing graduate student housing?

Wilkey: That’s one thing we are considering. The housing committee is slowly dividing into two sections: the group working on new housing and the group working on current housing situations. Mostly, at this point, we’re just trying to assess and grab all the necessary data.

DT: Are there any differences between your platforms this year and David’s last year?  

Wilkey: One thing we are going to continue trying to do is a database for funding resources and graduate students opportunities. One of the things is that we see an increase of membership and participation, we want to keep going. Our goal is to make sure every department is represented. For me, I’m working on trying to help the GSA to become its “better self.” We get a lot of funding from the Student Services Budget Committee — that’s our primary fund. We don’t have an endowment, we don’t have extra cash for social hours or giveaways or lectures. And we would like to do that. So for me [the task] is to begin the process of helping GSA to find some additional revenue strings.

DT: What do you think of COLA’s task force report?

Wilkey: I think they did a very good job of highlighting just how hard it is to be a TA. Not just the funding issue, but you want to feel appreciated in your work. I think they found sometimes TAs didn’t. 

DT: The GSA called for town halls on issues TAs currently face. Has the administration been interested at all?

Wilkey: I don’t have enough information to comment on it.

DT: Anything else you want our readers to know about GSA for the rest of this term and next year?

Wilkey: It’s Graduate Students Appreciation Month. This month saw some of us in DC to do our advocacy lobbying in Congress. We are concerned about research funding, we are concerned about taxation indebtedness. And some climate issues. We are really excited to have a whole year at the helm. You are going to see more and more graduate students making changes and waves.

Vance Roper was elected vice president of the Graduate Student Association on Tuesday. Roper hopes to improve graduate housing options and increase participation in GSA.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Brian Wilkey, Graduate Student Assembly president, appointed architecture graduate student Vance Roper as the organization’s vice president Tuesday after having the seat vacant since August.

On Aug. 21, David Villarreal stepped down as GSA president, making Wilkey president and leaving the organization without a vice president. Since becoming president, Wilkey has been searching for his replacement.

Wilkey said he sent out emails and made announcements to the graduate student body, and two people expressed interest in being GSA vice president. Out of the two applicants, Wilkey said Roper was the best candidate.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the assembly unanimously voted to instate Roper as vice president, moving him from his previous position as legislative affairs director. 

“In our conversation, I believe he very much shares the vision of what the GSA should be working on this year and working towards,” Wilkey said. “More importantly, he’s got a long-term mindset about what we will do this year and what will be beneficial down the road.”

According to Roper, his experience as legislative affairs director, in which he helped form resolutions aimed at graduate students, has helped to prepare him for the position.

“When the position opened, I felt I had the qualifications and the desire to step in and make this a really successful year for Graduate Student Assembly and for graduate students on the campus itself,” Roper said.

Roper said some of his platforms include improving graduate student housing options and increasing participation in GSA. Roper said he hopes to use his public policy background to encourage robust debate and participation among members.

“I’m also going to try and have a very engaged assembly throughout the entire session,” Roper said. “We had a lot of turnout, and we expect a bigger turnout as time goes on.”

Ropers’ appointment left the legislative affairs director position open. Wilkey said he made the executive decision to appoint Sharla Chamberlain, former election supervisory board member and director of Invest in Texas — a student initiative focused on voicing student concerns to the Texas Legislature.

“It went through more of an appointment process based on what was allowable in the constitution, in the interest of time,” Chamberlain said. “I was a member of the election supervisory board, so I got a good view into all of the candidates and into how the electoral process works.”

Wilkey said he expects a smooth transition into the adjusted executive board.

“A lot has remained really unchanged, and it’s just a different name on the card,” Wilkey said.

David Villarreal stepped down as Graduate Student Assembly president five months into his term. Brian Wilkey, Villarreal's vice president, is now serving as president

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

David Villarreal has stepped down as Graduate Student Assembly president five months into his term, according to an email from the organization Tuesday.

With Villarreal’s decision, Vice President Brian Wilkey was promoted to the presidency. In the email, Wilkey wrote that Villarreal approached him Aug. 21, saying he had made the decision to leave the office.

“[Villarreal] is pursuing his own goals right now, and we totally support this,” Wilkey said in an interview. “None of us come to graduate school at UT-Austin, or anywhere for that matter, to be the president or vice president of the graduate student body. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here for our academics.”

Wilkey said he was surprised by Villarreal’s decision. 

“This is always a possibility when you sign up to be vice president,” Wilkey said. “You hope it’s not because, obviously, [Villarreal] and I ran together, and I thought he was doing a wonderful job.”

Wilkey said the platform goals started under Villarreal will remain unchanged, including the creation of an academic database for graduate students, reconstructing GSA’s governing documents and various health initiatives. 

“Better treatment, better housing and a more efficient GSA — those things are all going to happen regardless of me being in charge or [Villarreal] being in charge,” Wilkey said.

Since Villarreal’s decision, Wilkey said he has been learning the duties of the president and getting updated on Villarreal’s work with different committees over the summer.

According to Wilkey, as the vice president, he had little interaction with projects in their beginning stages. He said his job was to review the end product, but now, as president, he is working more directly with
GSA members.

“What is really happening is I’m listening to my executive members talk about what they have been working with [Villarreal] on over the summer,” Wilkey said.

Jennifer Jendrzey, director of the communications committee, said she and other executive members of GSA have been meeting with Wilkey and are confident in his abilities as president.

“The executive committee and the GSA worked together really closely already, so this transition to [Wilkey] taking leadership has been pretty seamless,” Jendrzey said. “We’re confident that the rest of the year will go really well.”

According to the GSA constitution, when a president steps down, the vice president takes over his role and is required to appoint a new vice president, who must then be approved by a two-thirds majority of the assembly. The candidate can be appointed internally or externally from GSA.

“It’s an appointment process, so [the assembly has] all the right to ask the appointee all the questions they want,” Wilkey said. “And if they choose otherwise, I’m back to the drawing board.”

Wilkey said the vice president position will be filled by Sept. 16 — the day of the first GSA meeting — at the earliest. 

“I do not believe there is a shortage of qualified candidates on this campus,” Wilkey said.

Phone calls and emails to Villarreal were not returned.

Two U-Wide candidates forced into runoff, Villarreal-Wilkey to take GSA helm

Government and corporate communications senior Kori Rady embraces current Student Government president Horacio Villareal after being elected SG president Thursday night. Rady plans to deliver on platform points including an extended Thanksgiving break, creating a SafeRide program to taxi students home from downtown and creating an upperclassman shadowing day to pair freshmen with seniors.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

For a complete list of election results, scroll to the bottom.

After two days of voting and two hours of technical delays, Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland were elected Student Government president and vice president Thursday night.

Rady, a government and corporate communications senior, and Strickland, a corporate communications junior, defeated government senior Kenton Wilson and Caroline Carter, a marketing and international relations and global studies senior, with 51.9 percent of the vote. 

According to Election Supervisory Board chairman Ryan Lutz, 7,822 students voted in the election — a voter turnout rate of roughly 15.02 percent, using fall enrollment numbers. 

“We ran such a positive campaign,” Rady said. “I feel like we deserve all that has happened here tonight, and we can move forward and do great things for the University.”

In addition to the executive alliance election, students also cast ballots for University-wide representatives, representatives for each school and college, the president and vice president of the Graduate Student Assembly, Texas Student Media, the University Co-op and University Unions.

According to Lutz, the two-hour technical delay, which began when the voting website crashed 15 minutes before the polls closed, was caused by a third-party technical difficulty. Lutz said the board will resolve the issues before the runoff election for the eighth University-wide representative position, which will be held Wednesday and Thursday. The two candidates in the run-off, Wes Draper and John Brown, each received exactly 2,080 votes for the position. 

Rady continued campaigning on social media when it was announced that polls would close almost two hours later than expected. 

Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly said approximately 50 additional students voted between 5 and 6:45 p.m., when polling hours were extended.

“Technology can be your best friend, it can be your worst enemy and something somewhere in the middle,” Reagins-Lilly said. “I think people just understand technology can be unpredictable.”

Rady said he plans to deliver on platform points including an extended Thanksgiving break, creating a SafeRide program to taxi students home from downtown and creating an upperclassmen shadowing day to pair freshmen with seniors.

Wilson said he was happy his campaign was able to increase involvement among students who did not have Student Government experience.

“It was close, and obviously we would have liked to come out on top, but overall [Rady and Strickland] are highly qualified and they’ll do a great job next year,” Wilson said. 

The Election Supervisory Board heard four complaints Wednesday night, with one resulting in Graduate Student Assembly candidates David Villarreal and Brian Wilkey being forced to cease campaigning until 5 p.m. Thursday because of a campaign worker sending unsolicited emails. 

Despite the board’s decision, Villarreal and Wilkey won the executive alliance race for GSA. There were 507 graduate students who voted in the GSA presidential election.

Student Election Results

Executive Alliance: Kori Rady (President) and Taylor Strickland (Vice President)

University-Wide Representatives: Braydon Jones, Andrew "Cowboy" Rindler, Piper Vaughn, Taral Patel, Conner Patrick, Chandler Foster, Shannon Geison

The eighth university-wide representative will be determined in a run-off election March 5 and 6. Candidates John Brown and Wes Draper each received 2080 votes.

Student Government Representatives:

Architecture Representative: Valentina Rodriguez

Business Representatives: Jackson Clifford, John Falke, Meredith Rotwein

Communication Representatives: Ruben Cardenas and Marisa Beyerlein

Education Representative: Melysa Barth

Engineering Representatives: Jamie Nalley, Edward Banner, TJ Egeland

Fine Arts Representative: Austin Ferguson

GeoScience Representative: Jessica Sherman

Liberal Arts Representatives: Annie Albrecht, Sergio Cavazos, Tanner Long, Adit Bior

Natural Science Representative: Caroline Starling, Anish Patel, Cameron Crane, Adam Sacks, Donald Egan

Social Work Representative: Alissa Osgood

Undergraduate Studies Representative: Will Smith

Graduate Student Assembly: David Villarreal (President) and Brian Wilkey (Vice President)

University Co-op Board of Directors: Alex Bryan and Jake Schwartz

University Unions Board of Directors: Matthew Ealy and Vicky Nguyen

Campus Events + Entertainment President: Christopher Nickelson

The Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief: Riley Brands

Graduate students Lucy Hunt, Jennifer Shukusky and Brian Wilkey host the “Those Love Geeks” podcast. Hunt, Shukusky and Wilkey provide information and advice on love, sex and relationships.

Photo Credit: Miriam Rousseau | Daily Texan Staff

Sex and hook-ups are only a few of the topics discussed on thoselovegeeks.com, a student-run website featuring podcasts focused on academic research involving relationships.

Brian Wilkey, Lucy Hunt and Jennifer Shukusky, human development and family sciences graduate students, created the website and its podcast to inform listeners of scientifically proven information about human attraction and relationship trends. 

“It can take a long time for the public to find out about [relationship] study findings, and then they’re getting [information] from journalists who may not get it quite right,” Hunt said. “We thought, ‘Why not just give the correct information directly to whoever wants to listen?’”

Wilkey, creator and producer for the podcast, said he came up with the idea when he transferred from Texas A&M University to UT and was unable to get involved in the local theater scene.

“I wanted to do something that was kind of dramatic and something big,” Wilkey, who was elected as Graduate Student Assembly vice president Thursday evening, said. “They say do what you know, and what I happened to know was relationship science.”

Wilkey said the greatest challenge for the beginning episodes, which began airing in October 2012, was having the right equipment. A year after starting the project, Wilkey said the group purchased equipment from a friend that upgraded the sound quality of the podcast.

“We have a mixing board now and the correct mics,” Wilkey said. “Now the challenge is time.”

According to the students, it takes about three hours a week to prepare the literature, set up the equipment, create the podcast and then edit the audio content afterward.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re a graduate student, three hours becomes precious pretty quickly,” Hunt said. “But we love [the podcast]. We’re committed to it.”

Wilkey said despite the technical issues in early episodes, he has always been confident in the content they produce because of the conversational form of the podcast.

“We like to have fun,” Wilkey said. “If you listen to the episode we do on ovulatory cycle change and how that makes a difference, you’ll hear me just use the word ‘follicular’ over and over again because it’s my favorite word. It’s not even in context. Then Jennifer’s like, ‘You’ve got to stop saying that word.’”

According to Shukusky, the universality of relationships is part of what makes the podcast and the field of relationship science interesting.

“I feel like somewhat everyone is always trying to get into a relationship, maintain a relationship or get out of a relationship,” Shukusky said.  “To me, this is applicable to everyone. I’m studying everyone.”

The Love Geeks will post their next podcast episode Thursday and will discuss nontraditional forms of relationship initiation.

Student Government president and vice president candidates Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland listen to their defense given by senior Kent Kasischke to the Election Supervisory Board regarding a complaint filed by finance senior Danny Zeng.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:10 p.m.): Thursday afternoon, the election supervisory board released an opinion to dismiss the complaint brought against the Rady-Strickland campaign. At a hearing Wednesday night, Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused the alliance of committing privacy violations by sending him unrequited emails.

The board dismissed the complaint on grounds that there was a direct connection between Zeng and Rady-Strickland worker Joshua Tang, a history major.

Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

According to the opinion released by the board, “the executive alliance acted within campaign guidelines when collecting the plaintiff’s e-mail.”

Updated (11:40 a.m.): Thursday morning, the Election Supervisory Board determined the Villarreal-Wilkey executive alliance in the Graduate Student Assembly elections was guilty of sending of unsolicited emails and ordered the alliance to cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

According to the board's opinion, “the worker, though ignorant that her actions were in direct violation of the Election Code, was found to be the source of mass emails sent to multiple, substantial academic listservs within graduate departments.”

The board determined the executive alliance committed a Class B violation and must remove all campaign material and cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

The board released opinions on three of the four complaints it heard late Wednesday night. A resolution regarding the Rady-Strickland hearing in Student Government executive alliance elections has not been released.

ESB chose to dismiss the second complaint involving the Villarreal-Wilkey campaign. Their opposing candidates accused Villarreal and Wilkey of using platform points that were not their own. The board dismissed the case stating there was not enough proof to make a decision.

“We concluded that we could not determine any possible similarities between the platforms were a result of coincidence or not,” the opinion stated.

The board also dismissed a complaint against University Co-op Board of Directors candidate Ben Tillis in a case involving destruction of campaign property. The board determined there was not sufficient enough evidence.

Polls close at 5 p.m. Thursday and results are announced at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Building.

Original Story: Late Wednesday night, after the first day of voting, the Election Supervisory Board heard four allegations of misconduct, including one that the Rady-Strickland executive alliance campaign had violated students’ privacy by adding students to an email listserv without permission.

The hearings, which began at 10:30 p.m. and continued on past 1 a.m., also addressed two charges filed against Graduate Student Assembly executive alliance Villarreal-Wilkey including allegations they were campaigning on platform points that were not originally their ideas. The board also heard complaints from two candidate for the Co-op board of director position who claimed an opponent had torn down their fliers.

Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused Student Government presidential candidate Kori Rady and running mate Taylor Strickland of unauthorized use of his email address.

“I really don’t know the scope and reach of this operation,” Zeng told the board. “I just know my privacy is being intruded from the negligence on their part.”

History senior Joshua Tang and Kennon Kasischke, a biology and psychology senior, represented the Rady-Strickland campaign at the hearing. Tang, who is registered as a worker for the Rady-Strickland campaign, said he was not speaking in any way in his capacity as SG administrative director.

Tang said Zeng was added to the campaign’s listserv after Rady and Strickland asked their agents and workers to contact the leaders of the student organizations in which they held membership. Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

“The emails that I submitted were sent to people I know are engaged on political matters on campus,” Tang said.

Kasischke, a Rady-Strickland agent, said he felt the campaign team was selective in choosing whom the emails were sent to, and kept well within the boundaries of the guidelines about email messaging in the board’s code.

“If your team is using the directory to email someone you know, you need to have someone on your team to have a direct connection to him,” Kasischke said. “We developed a list of 668 emails.”

Zeng said he felt the campaign should not have assumed he wanted to get the campaign email.

“I appreciate what they said, but in this country, with mass marketing, we have an opt-in system rather than an opt-out,” Zeng said.

Tang asked the board to have the case dismissed. Board Chairman Ryan Lutz said the board was required to release a resolution and would have the response within 24 hours.

The board also addressed two separate complaints filed against Graduate Student Assembly presidential candidate David Villarreal and running mate Brian Wilkey. Their opponents, presidential candidate Frank Male and running mate Virginia Luehrsen, filed a complaint against executive alliance Villarreal and Wilkey over “misleading campaign activities.” Luehrsen said the duo claimed other candidates’ platform points as their own.

“Misrepresentation of facts and the work involved is damaging to our campaign and to the Graduate Student Assembly,” Luehrsen said. “If students did this in my class, I would report them to Student Judicial Services.”

Villarreal said he was alarmed by the lack of specifics the opposing candidates brought forward.

“We fundamentally believe it is our job to campaign for ourselves,” Villarreal said.

A second hearing was called to address allegations against Villarreal and Wilkey concerning an economics graduate coordinator forwarding an email to several departments endorsing their campaign.

Economics graduate student Anna Klis accused a worker of sending a Villarreal-Wilkey endorsement email to the economics graduate coordinator, which was then passed along through graduate departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Klis said she believed the email could be confused by graduate students as an endorsement by the college.

“In a case like this — this is almost cause for disqualification,” Klis said.

Villarreal said the worker had been his close friend for several years, and said she was likely unfamiliar with UT student election codes. Wilkey said if his team had been aware of the worker's plans to send the email, he and Villarreal would have prevented her from doing so.

“We apparently have a rogue agent — we are upset about this,” Wilkey said. “There may be no way to rectify this.”

The board also addressed allegations made by business senior Alexander Bryan and undeclared freshman Christian Trudeau, both candidates for the Co-op board of director position. Bryan and Trudeau claimed that finance sophomore Ben Tillis, who is also running for the position, removed their campaign fliers in the McCombs School of Business.

Bryan said he and Trudeau could not offer proof Tillis had torn down the fliers because they did not have video camera footage, but said he knew of at least nine fliers that had disappeared that were at one point clearly visible in McCombs.

“It seems like somebody was directly targeting [Trudeau] and I’s campaign,” Bryan said.

In response, Tillis said his fliers were also removed from their original locations and encouraged the board to check security footage. ESB chairman Ryan Lutz said he would consult with McCombs representatives Thursday.

At roughly 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, when the hearings ended, Lutz said the board would release resolutions for all four allegations within 24 hours. Student election polls will close Thursday at 5 p.m.

Additional reporting by Bobby Blanchard

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

When graduate students vote in Graduate Student Assembly elections Wednesday and Thursday, they will choose between executive alliances running for the presidential and vice-presidential positions for the first time in the organization’s history. 

In the past, students ran independently, and those elected president and vice president had no say in their partnership.

Presidential candidate Frank Male and running mate Virginia Luehrsen will run in alliance against presidential candidate David Villarreal and running mate Brian Wilkey. Both pairs focus on issues including graduate student tuition policies and the need for increased community involvement. 

Last year, roughly 1,000 of the 11,000 graduate students at UT voted in the elections. 

Villarreal, a history graduate student, said that he and Wilkey would focus on promoting graduate health and self-care, affordable housing, expanding the graduate-student voice, and maximizing graduate student resources.

Villarreal said he chose Wilkey as his running mate because of Wilkey’s desire for efficiency in GSA. Although both candidates each have one year of experience in GSA, Villarreal said his close relationship with Columbia Mishra, the current GSA president, makes him qualified for the position.

“In some ways we’re running as outsiders, which I think is actually a strength of ours,” Villarreal said. “The job of the vice president is to manage and run the assembly meetings, and I thought, in many ways, [Wilkey] is already doing this job, so he would be an ideal candidate to carry over.”

One of the pair’s biggest goals, Villarreal said, is to institute a campaign to promote mental-health awareness. Villarreal, who suffers from narcolepsy, said he understands the challenges of finding resources on-campus for health issues.

“One of the only reasons I learned about disability services was from a friend,” Villarreal said. “People shouldn’t learn about their fundamental rights by word of mouth.”

If elected vice president, Wilkey said he hopes to create a central database for all the resources available to graduate students. Wilkey, a human development and family sciences graduate student, said students approaching him with questions made him realize University services are not well-advertised. 

“Very often those resources are available for graduate students, but they are not promoted and often under-utilized,” Wilkey said.

Villarreal has also been working closely with GSA student affairs director Jaime Puente to write a graduate student bill of rights aimed at creating a baseline minimum stipend to help graduate students cope with the cost of living.

Wilkey said although he has not worked directly on the bill of rights, it is one of the most important things he and Villarreal hope to continue pushing if elected.

“It kind of goes unmentioned because it is priority number one for us,” Wilkey said. “That’s something that affects change at a campus-wide level.”

Wilkey and Villarreal both said their four platform points contribute to their overall goal of increasing representation for graduate students.

According to Wilkey, only about 60 percent of GSA members show up to the assembly’s meetings. 

“We claim to speak as a representative body for all graduate students,” Wilkey said. 

Physics graduate student Frank Male and information studies graduate student Virginia Luehrsen will run on a platform centered on graduate student housing, community, time-to-degree and dismissal procedures. Male and Luehrsen are currently in their third and fourth year as GSA members, respectively. 

Luehrsen said the positive feedback she’s received from her department prompted her to run for the vice-presidential seat, and she asked Male to join her at the top of the ticket.

“I’ve been in [GSA] for so long, and it’s important to me that it stays strong,” Luehrsen said.

The 99-hour rule is one of Male’s main concerns. Currently, if graduate students exceed 99 hours in pursuit of their degrees, they may be subject to out-of-state tuition. 

“Graduate students tend to already live on a shoestring budget so having that happen would just be devastating,” Male said.

Male said he also hopes to expand the current Milestones Agreement Program, which was created to help individual graduate students stay on track for finishing their degree. Male said the current system often notifies students they are being dismissed only several weeks before the end of a semester.

“Because it’s so nebulous, it’s difficult to know how well you’re achieving your goals and working towards graduation,” Male said.

Luehrsen said the duo’s experiences in GSA make them a good combination to help broaden the scope of what the organization can do.

“Between my skill set of navigating with the other legislative student organizations and my ability to network with representatives in other departments, and [Male’s] working with administration, makes a really good combination,” Luehrsen said.

Clarification: Due to an editing error, this story has been updated from its original version. GSA candidate Virginia Luehrsen is in her fourth year as a GSA member.