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The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ new Graduate Student Council board — voted in at the Council’s monthly meeting Wednesday evening — are nearly unanimous in their support for the graduate student union.
Ten graduate students ran uncontested for the executive board positions — which include four new officers, five at-large representatives, and a new GSC advisor — and eight of them spoke favorably of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers either in their speech or during a question period. One freshman member maintained a neutral stance and current GSC President Blakely O’Connor never explicitly gave her position.
The election marks a departure from previous GSC boards, which have stayed relatively quiet on their stance on the union in recent years. The last time every seat on the GSC board was filled with a supporter of the union was in 2013, when union organizers won every seat — a key step in establishing the legitimacy of the then-fledgling student-workers’ union movement.
Just before the GSC unanimously voted Zachary M. Hayworth the new president, he made his position clear.
“Another thing I think is really important is that the GSC push for a union contract,” Hayworth said. “We can use our leverage to get this drama over and to finalize a contract ASAP.”
Minutes after, nominee for GSC vice president Deanza A. Cook took the stage and promptly supported Hayworth’s position.
“One of the things I really want to focus on as vice president is really trying to get this advocacy situation between the GSC and the union and these other organizations and affinity groups that are lobbying for certain changes more streamlined and synthetic,” Cook said, just before the GSC voted unanimously, but for one abstention, to make her vice president.
Three at-large representative positions remain unfilled, and will most likely be assumed by incoming graduate students next fall.
Hayworth said he is confident the relationship between the GSC and the union will be collaborative.
“It’s a synergistic relationship,” Hayworth said. “But it’s still being refined. We actually have a meeting coming up in a few weeks where we’re going to define exactly what the cooperation is going to look like.”
The open meeting also saw two representatives from the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign speak to the GSC about their current push to make the University disclose its investment profile.
The GSC approved a motion to vote on a resolution supporting the Prison Divestment Campaign’s push at next month’s meeting.
The Prison Divestment Campaign’s presentation comes amidst calls for Harvard to divest its nearly $40 billion endowment from companies with ties to the prison system.
Hayworth said at the Wednesday meeting that his priorities for his tenure as president include increased cooperation with student affinity groups at GSAS.
“My hope is that the GSC will interact a lot more closely with student groups like the W.E.B. Du Bois Graduate Society, LGBTQ@GSAS, and the Latinx Society to bring those people into GSC meetings,” Hayworth said. “Those are the groups out there on the ground doing coalition building. Also to bring those people to deans’ meetings, as a way to use the dean’s meetings as a way to advance student group agendas.”
The new executive board will be in office during the Dudley House transition to a GSAS student center. Hayworth said he sees this transition as an opportunity to reshape administrators’ perceptions of students' experiences in the school.
“What I think is really important about next year is that this building is going from Dudley House to a GSAS Student Center, which is a really powerful moment to shape how administrators view being a student at GSAS.”
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