The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

GPSA holds debates for 2024-25 school year

President, Vice President and senators to be up for election. Majority of offices to be uncontested
GPSA Vice President Marwa Aly and President Ajay Barman answering questions from the senators

The Graduate and Professional Student Association held their presidential and vice presidential debate for the upcoming election at their meeting on Monday.

The meeting’s guest speakers were the WSU Transportation Advisor group. Transportation services director Chris Boyan and Ashley Wells, GPSA international affairs chair. Wells said the transit advisory group is a group that includes representatives of ASWSU, GPSA and RHA. After deliberation, TAG will be moving forward with a multi-modal bus hub on campus.

“The goal is to have this central hub up and running at the beginning of the fall 2024 semester,” Wells said.

The student transit fee proposal is TAG is recommending a 5% increase in the student transit fee, she said. The goal is to minimize upcoming reductions in service levels due to the decrease in enrollment and that there has not been any STF increases in four years.

Boyan said total revenue for the year is $1,686,969. Assuming they get the 5% increase, that will go up to $1,718,776 for fiscal year 2025. The last major increase was during the 2017-18 school year, when students voted to increase the fee by $5 per semester.

Boyan said the money for the hub has been approved and there will be two phases to the project, with phase one being the widening of the driveways so buses can make the turns in and out of Flag Lane, which should be completed by August.

The second phase will be to find money for shelters, restrooms and whatever amenities they can put in there, with a date still to be determined, he said.

Boyan said the fee is classified as a volunteer mandatory fee and because of that there is no opting out of it.

“The students volunteered to make the fee mandatory,” he said. “There’s no getting out of paying the fee because the students voted it in.”

Should the fee not be increased, Boyan said there would be a reduction of services, although it was not as if the bus system will fall apart.

GPSA then began the debate, chaired by Wells. Each candidate was given five minutes to give their speech.

President Ajay Barman said it was an honor to serve as the president the previous year and wants to continue the efforts made.

“We even had the courage to initiate our fundraising goal for this year,” Barman said. “We all played a crucial part in making things happen this year. We did it together.”

Barman said his major goals for the coming year are to advocate more for graduate students at WSU, organizing an additional Coug Day only for graduate students, advocating for basic needs, done in part by securing access to the food pantry and keeping the campus diverse and equitable for everyone.

Vice President Marwa Aly said she has been proud to work as Vice President and hopes to continue doing so.

“All the issues the president candidate mentioned is my priority as well,” Aly said. “I won’t repeat them, but as a candidate for the VP positon, I would promise to keep all the activities.”

Tathagata Pal, Vice President for Legislative Affairs, is running unopposed and said he has been doing his best to make students’ voices heard.

“I have not been able to make all this happen without the support of our legislative team,” Pal said.

Pal said he appreciates all the support in his election and encourages people to reach out to him via email if they have any questions. The senators had no questions for him.

The senators heard debates for college representatives, the first being to represent the college of arts and sciences. Madison Hönig, the incumbent, said she joined GPSA because she used to serve as the anthropology senator and wanted to go into community affairs.

“I started taking classes by myself, I was eating my meals by myself. I was figuring out how to be a graduate student by myself. I realized what I was looking for was community,” Hönig said. “That’s why I decided to run for GPSA.”

Nazua Idris, the next candidate for the college of arts and sciences, said they are a student from Bangladesh and GPSA has become like a family to her.

“I believe GPSA does a good job to support all the people,” Idris said. “I want to continue that legacy of love that I received from GPSA and all the people who I [have] worked with here.”

The next office was representative for the college of communications. Current representative Andrew Sutherland was the one candidate. Sutherland said he served as communications director for the past year and having learned from this year he will try to find a more streamlined manner for communications to get out from GPSA.

Sutherland said his general goals include expanding on resources and finding ways to promote the work of students 

The next candidate was representative for the college of veterinary medicine. Augustine Triumph Attah, the current representative for CAHNRS, said he has been privileged to work with senators to improve the lives of students.

“I decided to now become the rep for CVM to do the same and better for my own college,” Triumph Attah said. “The concerns of CVM are also different. I’d like to bring both staff and students together. I don’t think we really connect.”

The next representative was that of the college of education. Current representative Golrokh Maleki said she has been the representative of the college for the past two years and hopes to see more people hoping to be representatives.

“I really feel proud to be working with senators and people from my college,” Maleki said. “The true power is to help them come to voice so that we have not done anything for them but empowering them and they are in the status of making decisions and being more active in what they’re doing.”

The final candidate was Sajjad Uddin Mahmud, the representative of the Voiland College of Engineering and architecture. The current senator from the Voiland College of engineering and architecture, said this year he had many meetings with the deans to improve the lives of those in the college.

“We talked about the stipend increase,” he said. “Unfortunately that didn’t go well because the WSU-CASE going on, but I did my best to do something within the department.”

Hönig said senators should have received an email from her concerning the Cougar Food Pantry referendum asking senators to send emails to their constituents, making them aware of the issue. The ballot opened at 8 p.m. Monday and will remain open until Friday.

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About the Contributor
JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor
Josiah is a sophomore broadcast journalism and broadcast production double major. He is from Lakewood, Washington and began working for the Evergreen in Fall 2021.