Candidates for the 2015-2016 GEO Organizing Committee

Below are the candidates for next year’s organizing committee and their statements, listed in the order their nominations were received.

April Parsons

Master’s Candidate, Department of Conflict Resolution

I am passionate about making sure all graduate employees receive fair pay, benefits, and working environments. I am currently part of the stewards committee within the GEO and this position would allow me to take on a more active role within the union. The conflict resolution program has also given me the opportunity to learn negotiation and bargaining techniques, and I hope to use those skill sets to improve the lives of every graduate student worker on campus. Thank you!

Emily Schkeryantz
Master’s Candidate, Department of Conflict Resolution

I believe that graduate employees do much to enrich UMass Boston and, as such, it’s important that they be treated with respect as valuable employees.  I want to serve on the GEO Organizing Committee to advocate on behalf of fair treatment and adequate compensation for the work that you provide to the university. My previous leadership and advocacy experience, combined with my background in conflict resolution, have provided me with the skills necessary to take on this task. Your support would give me the opportunity to do so.

Andjela H. Kaur
PhD Candidate, School of Global Inclusion and Social Development

Let ‘s connect! To give the entire student body a stronger voice at our university, we should build relationships with various student  organizations.

I am a doctoral student at the School of Global Inclusion and Social Development and my concentration is disability studies. I have several years of experience in human services and adult education as a vocational counselor and a program manager. I will hear your concerns and will advocate for things that matter to you.

I have been pressing for fair employment practices for disabled people for many years, and I continue to push labor issues into the forefront of every political debate. As an organizing committee member, I will promote joint efforts, activities, and venues across schools, departments, student interest groups, and entities that serve students. Imagine health services, the Office of Graduate Studies, and several student organizations coming together with the GEO to testify about the importance of fully-funded  health insurance for graduate employees!

Your vote towards my nomination will bring us closer to collaborations like this one. It is time to cultivate friendships and alliances that will make our efforts fruitful and our university better.

Chris Whynacht
PhD Candidate, College of Management

I have been an advocate of GEO since I learned about the organization during student orientation. I have served on previous student unions and advocacy groups during my undergraduate and masters degrees and was pleased to see that UMass Boston had an organization like GEO during my PhD training. In my experience, groups like GEO are essential for both graduate and undergraduate students.

Student rights are often discussed, but rarely are they advocated for by individual students themselves.  A strong student employees union is an essential mechanism for student advocacy that allows us to collectively voice our opinions and settle disputes.  In a world where university administrators and professors hold the majority of the real power, students need to work collectively to avoid being dismissed as overly-demanding or radicals.  In my opinion, arguing for safe and secure workplaces for students and providing reasonable compensation for our efforts is not overly demanding or radical. Clearly, there are issues in ensuring that we have the kinds of workplaces which fully prevent sexual harassment, racism, and abuse of power in all parts of our modern society – the university campus is sadly no exception.  GEO is a necessary advocate that works in our best interests to try and ensure that we make progress on these issues.  On the compensation side – recent work by the GEO group has highlighted the need to force university administration to honor their contractual obligations in order for us to get fair pay for our hard work.  The lesson here is that, unfortunately, collective bargaining is not always enough; sometimes there is a need for collective action to ensure that contractual obligations are met.

As a GEO member I am committed to working on our collective behalf to maintain and grow the kind of standards that we describe as basic worker’s rights…. fair pay, equal treatment, and freedom from persecution.  I look forward to working with you to ensure that you are being treated fairly while you are a student employee here at UMass Boston.  I hope to be elected to the Organizing Committee, and I appreciate your support.

Lisa Hanson
MFA Candidate, English Department

As an MFA candidate at UMB, I feel very fortunate to be a part of this community of engaged and resourceful graduate students. I would love the opportunity to advocate for, communicate with, and spread the word about issues faced by myself and my fellow Graduate Employees.  I’d bring administrative, project management, teaching and tutoring experience to the position, along with a great deal of enthusiasm.

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