What is the Graduate Student Senate?
GSS performs the primary responsibility of Graduate Student Government: allocating several million dollars of Student Activity Fee (SAF) money to student organizations across campus. All student organizations are eligible to request SAF allocations through budgets and bills, and GSS and the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) hear and vote on these funding requests. GSS is composed of Senators from all graduate programs of study at Georgia Tech, with the number of Senate seats proportional to the size of the individual program.
What are budgets and bills?
All student organizations (both graduate and undergraduate) are eligible to request SAF allocations through budgets and bills. The GSS and Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) hear and vote on these funding requests.
What does a typical senate session look like?
A typical senate session lasts approximately 2 hours, from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM every Tuesday of the Spring and Fall semesters (excluding holidays and special events). Sessions open with reports from GSGA officers, institutional committee members, and leads of campus-wide initiatives. Then, Senators vote on all presented bills and contribute to bill discussions. We realize that some students will have classes that overlap into Senate on Tuesdays; this situation can be accommodated as long as it is communicated beforehand. Robert’s Rules of Order are used as general guidelines for Senate procedure, with some exceptions.
How does bill submission, discussion, and approval work?
The typical process for a bill is as follows:
1. A student organization will contact a Graduate Senator, requesting that they author a bill
2. The Graduate Senator reviews the bill, and, if needed, suggest edits to the bill text to meet funding policies
3. The student organization will send a representative to the next GSS session, explaining the merits of the bill and answering questions.
4. GSS discusses the merits of the bill as a body, proposing amendments as needed
5. Once the discussion is finished and a majority opinion is reached, GSS votes to pass/fail the final version of the bill
What happens if UHR and GSS disagree on a bill?
UHR performs the same review and approval process as GSS. If there are differences in the UHR and GSS versions of bill, a Conference Committee is formed, consisting of volunteer members of GSS/UHR. This committee discusses the bill (typically over email) until a final version is agreed upon. This bill then returns to the GSS and UHR to be reviewed again and voted on.
How are student organizations budgets decided?
Budgets are submitted by student organizations to GSS/UHR every year in the spring, and GSS/UHR review, modify, and approve budgets in late May and early April. Just as for bills, conflicting versions of the budget are resolved by a conference committee with members from GSS/UHR. Beyond the bill process, this is one of the most important roles that Graduate Student Senators perform.
Do Graduate Student Senators do anything else besides pass bills and budgets?
Senators of a department will get together and hold a forum with their departments once a semester. Don’t worry, this is actually a great experience even if it’s a little nerve-wracking. This gives the graduate students of a department the opportunity to voice their concerns, issues, and feedback to their Senators who can then help guide initiatives, bill voting, and other productive change with the support of their department.
Occasionally, Graduate SGA will pass resolutions. These are unanimous statements made by GSS in support of a particular position, action, or response. Senators discuss the resolution in Senate sessions before voting to affirm the resolution. Senators can also serve on Institute Committees, helping to set academic and administrative policies around campus.
We also encourage Senators to be involved in Graduate SGA Initiatives, come up with their own initiatives, and be the voice for their department in all things GSGA. Finally, we strongly encourage all Senators to help lead and run major Grad SGA events, giving them a chance to connect with students, faculty, administrators, and the Georgia Tech community.
How do I apply to be a Graduate Student Senator?
Senate seats are distributed based on institute wide elections, with all graduate students in your individual program voting for their favorite candidate. In the event of a contested election (i.e., more candidates than senate seats available), candidates are encouraged to introduce themselves to their fellow graduate students and explain their qualifications to represent their program. Terms in GSS last 1 academic year, from Fall until the end of the following Spring. Senators are also encouraged to serve on the email-based summer Senate to process bills as needed.
What happens after the election is over?
The first meeting of the Graduate Student Senate will be on the 2nd week of the Fall semester from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (August 30th for Fall 2016). A mandatory training session will be held later that week to better familiarize new Senators with GSS processes and procedures.
Senate Elections By-Laws (see Sec. I of Grad SGA By-Laws)
Senate Voting Link (not open yet)
For elections campaigning, violations, or inquires about the election process and procedures, please contact the Elections Director, Lanssie Ma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting is done at elections.gatech.edu.