The goal, he said, was to strengthen the group from the inside out, building on its past successes. Now he’s looking to use those triumphs as building blocks to expand outward.
“We decided … that we would work internally to make the GSA stronger and then move forward now, go and advocate externally for what matters to graduate students,” he said.
Ghaith, a PhD candidate in agriculture and resource economics, was re-elected as GSA president April 6. His tenure in the position stems from a longstanding interest in student politics stretching back to his time as an undergraduate, which inspired him to seize the opportunity to lead his fellow graduate students using the tools and life experience he had developed during his time on campus.
“I wanted to give back to the students and to be engaged directly in student leadership,” Ghaith said. “I learned a lot about student politics, about how to improve the student experience by being engaged with graduate students across the country. This engagement kind of pushed me to try to bring the best ideas that I’d heard back to our graduate students.”
Ghaith’s platform focused on an overall push to advocate for graduate student interests, a goal he narrowed down to two key goals: to create a set of student-supervisor guide- lines, which would make specific what are frequently vague academic relationships; and to establish a seat for graduate students on the U of S Board of Governors.
This second goal, Ghaith said, is of vital importance not only to the GSA but also to the university as a whole. As the graduate student population has grown, Ghaith believes that their voice has become more important than ever in helping to guide the campus.
“We are a very unique group of students on campus,” he said. “Different from undergraduate students, graduate students not only do coursework, but contribute to a large fraction of the university’s research output and participation in instruction as well. Graduate students being on the Board of Governors and being engaged in the university’s strategic and financial planning is part of the change that research-intensive universities need.” Looking forward, Ghaith simply wants to continue walking the path he started down in his first term as president.
“It seems that the GSA students were happy with our initiatives, and the GSA executives have received many kind emails from graduate students highlighting how much they valued our accomplishments,” he said. “I would say that it’s a reflection of the external and internal success of the GSA executive team last year that led me to the position where I could be elected again.”