Senate of College Councils proposed and passed a bill adding the Graduate Communications Council to Senate at its meeting Thursday.
Senate fast-tracked the legislation and passed it unanimously. Now, Senate has 22 councils with the addition, nine of which specifically represent graduate students, according to the bill.
Jay Bernhardt, dean of the Moody College of Communication, founded the Graduate Communications Council in 2016, according to the Moody Graduate Communication Council Facebook page. It has held events for graduate students in Moody but has not represented them in any legislative student organization.
Senate president Elena Ivanova and administrative director Adebayo Gbakinro authored the bill. Gbakinro, a computer science, Spanish and French junior, said he found the council on accident while researching information about college councils.
“I had never heard of (the council), so I was interested and wondered if they were active,” Gbakinro said. “I saw they had been having events on their Facebook page, and it really surprised me that Senate had never reached out to them. Not all councils know Senate is a thing, so it’s more on the onus of Senate to reach out to councils to see if they want to participate. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more (councils) we don’t know about out there.”
Gbakinro contacted Jessica Collier, president of the council. Collier said the council decided to join Senate because it would help the council better serve graduate students in Moody.
“We felt that by joining Senate, we would be able to continue our advocacy and representation on a larger scale,” graduate student Collier said. “We wanted to ensure that the voices of Moody graduate students are heard beyond our organization.”
Gbakinro said adding a new council only requires the Senate to pass a short piece of legislation and change a line in the Senate constitution.
“It’ll make a difference in representation,” Gbakinro said. “Currently, there seems to be a difference between graduate and undergraduate councils in Moody, so the more direct representation, the better. And I don’t see an issue with Moody having two councils because other colleges also have more than one.”
Policy director Hussain Alkhafaji said adding the Council is part of Senate’s duty to the student body.
“We’re adamant about being the voice for all students on campus on issues with improving the academic experiences, including graduate councils,” said Alkhafaji, a public health and journalism senior. “It’s an integral pillar to that mission to add new voices and provide a platform for these graduate students in Moody to advocate their concerns specific to their experiences at UT.”
Ivanova, a public health, government and Plan II senior, said she thought council members would arrive for the meeting, but none were present during the vote. Collier said she could not attend because of a family emergency.
“They will get a very nice email (about being added to Senate) tomorrow,” Ivanova said during the meeting.