This year’s Graduate Students Association elections will include five candidates running, three of whom are running unopposed, and a referendum. Graduate students can begin voting on MyUCLA from Wednesday to Tuesday. Below is a list of each candidate’s platforms and experiences.
Running for: president
- Continue the Westwood Forward initiative to give students a greater voice in the Westwood community. Westwood Forward is a coalition of students, home and business owners advocating for a new neighborhood council for Westwood.
- Push for more accessible and affordable housing for graduate students, including extending the number of years UCLA guarantees students housing.
- Re-evaluate how UCLA pays for construction projects by allocating resources from the university instead of increasing graduate student rent.
- Increase outreach to undergraduate student organizations to get future graduate students more involved in community issues and GSA leadership positions.
- Work with Associated Students UCLA to ensure long-term financial stability so student fees can stay low without having to downsize student government organizations.
- Continue to increase GSA’s programming with more community events and socials.
- Two-term GSA president.
- Two-term graduate chair on the University of California Council of Presidents.
- Former president of the Weyburn and Hilgard Residents’ Association.
- As president of GSA, Skiles has worked to prevent high rent increases in graduate student housing, helped organize the Westwood Forward initiative and held events such as GradCafe and free films for the graduate students.
“The reason I am running for reelection is that I want to see my Westwood Forward initiative through,” Skiles said. “I need to make sure that Westwood Forward stays unified after the seniors in USAC graduate.”
Running for: vice president of internal affairs
- Work to equalize opportunities and create more programs for graduate students across all departments.
- Increase alumni connections and involvement with GSA.
- Push for more accessible and affordable housing.
- Work to lower students’ transportation costs and on-campus parking fees.
- Create a platform for students to present their ideas, master’s theses or projects, similar to TED Talks.
- Expand GSA’s presence and outreach to get more students involved in the association.
- Currently a communication methods teaching assistant.
- Former vice president of philanthropy for the sorority Sigma Omicron Pi.
- Former director for external communication for the nonprofit Global China Connection.
- Worked for the China Development Bank, where she met with government officials to promote development in third-world countries.
“I want to create a sense of community among our graduate students by promoting GSA presence on campus as well as helping us get the resources we need and deserve,” Jia said.
Running for: vice president of internal affairs
- Advocate for more affordable university housing and fight against rent hikes.
- Host weekly socials and increase networking events.
- Continue to work with Westwood Forward to give students a voice in Westwood.
- Increase career opportunities by collaborating with career services.
- Expand opportunities for nonacademia-related career paths.
- Work to lower transportation costs for student commuters.
- Current GSA co-director of graduate events.
- UC systemwide Academic Affairs officer of the UC Student Association.
- As a dental student, he has been twice elected vice president of his class.
“As the GSA events director, I had the privilege to meet a lot of graduate students this year from different programs and hear their stories, aspirations and, above all, the desire to build a strong community,” Hu said. “The desire to build a strong community is precisely what inspired me to run for office this year and it’s what I intend to accomplish with all of our fellow graduate students.”
Michelle Ellis Viorato
Running for: vice president of external affairs
- Work to get more students involved and represented in the Westwood community through the Westwood Forward initiative by giving them a platform.
- Advocate to make education more affordable and accessible for parent students by collaborating with state and national organizations to provide funding for child care and scholarships.
- Develop relationships with private and California State University schools so GSA can work with them to attend meetings and campaign together on higher education issues.
- Collaborate on projects with undergraduate students who are interested in graduate education.
- Grow GSA’s advocacy on a state and national level by working with organizations such as Students Advocating for Graduate Education and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students.
- Former state and national legislative director for GSA.
- Currently the GSA external vice president’s chief of staff.
- Was vice chair of the lobby core at California State University, Fullerton.
“I am passionate about improving quality of life for current graduate students at UCLA and am committed to bringing the concerns of nontraditional graduate students to a systemwide level,” Viorato said. “This election will determine GSA’s capacity to advocate on behalf of students at a local level and to strategize how to help shape midterm elections in November.”
Running for: vice president of academic affairs
- Ensure that UCLA Academic Senate Committees reflect the diversity of graduate students.
- Continue to connect students from different disciplines through “Interdisci Dinners,” in which students from any UCLA graduate school can come and discuss various topics such as entrepreneurship or entertainment with other students with similar interests.
- Work to make it easier for graduate students to find and apply for teaching assistant positions.
- Increase support for the Academic Senate Committees by helping to set and accomplish goals.
- Currently a GSA forum representative.
- Co-founded Delta Sigma Pi, a coed business fraternity that reached approximately 100 members by her fourth year.
- Co-founded the business Shirt and Simple to give younger members of Delta Sigma Pi an opportunity to gain business experience.
- Currently serves as the external relations vice president of the Management Consulting Association and vice president of engagement for net impact within the Anderson School of Business.
- Has worked for the last four years in marketing communications for General Mills.
- As a GSA forum representative, she worked to strengthen the graduate community culture through “Interdisci Dinners,” in which students of any discipline could come and discuss topics of interest. The first dinner she held far surpassed the goal of 25 students, with a turnout of approximately 60 attendees.
“I decided to run for a (forum representative) position just to get involved with graduate students outside of the business school. … That was my first taste of GSA,” Wright said . “I found it to be interesting to connect with other students and to learn about other issues students were facing across programs.”