Emmit Pert to assume role of GSC deputy chair

Graduate Student Council co-chair Kristen Jackson, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in race, inequality, language and inclusion, announced that she would be stepping down as co-chair during the council’s Wednesday meeting. 

“It’s been a pleasure working toward the hard goals and I’m excited to see the cool things we’ve accomplished,” Jackson said in an address to the GSC. “I hope I was able to do something that earned your vote.”

Jackson wrote in a statement to The Daily that she chose to step down to “care for my mental health.”

As she moves on from her role, Jackson wrote she will maintain a strong commitment to campus and hopes to advocate for other graduate students experiencing depression and burnout. 

“It became very clear that I wasn’t able to give 100% to the council and to the graduate community,” Jackson wrote. “I reflected for a while and realized that the work can’t stop because of one person’s challenges.

“Instead, what’s best is for me to step aside and allow someone with greater bandwidth to work with Liz [Park] to continue to advocate for change.”

Jackson’s last meeting as co-chair will be next week on Dec. 6. 

Emmit Pert, the current benefits and affordability chair and a fourth-year chemistry Ph.D. student, was unanimously elected to fill the co-chair position. Pert will assume the role of deputy chair alongside current GSC co-chair Elizabeth Park after Jackson steps down. 

As chair, Pert said his job will be to serve as a point of communication between administration and the graduate student body, and to advocate for graduate students’ concerns. He said he hopes his new role will help him better understand the University’s internal processes, such as how funding is delegated. 

“I feel like I’m friends with many of you, and I hope you feel the other way around,” Pert said. “I also ask for grace for whatever mistakes I manage to make.”

The GSC also discussed first generation and/or low-income (FLI) support, protests against the Doerr School of Sustainability and funding requests.

Third-year chemistry Ph.D. student Josh Arens represented the FLI office at the meeting and outlined past initiatives to support students, including hosting community events, circulating surveys to assess FLI needs and organizing food pantries. 

“It didn’t really cross [the administration’s] mind until a couple of years ago that there was this [FLI] population here,” Arens said. “I think a lot of graduate students just aren’t aware of what FLI really means.”

Arens also recommended more ways to support the FLI office, like a larger presence at New Graduate Student Orientation and spreading awareness of FLI resources to students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Kay Barrett, diversity and advocacy chair and second-year English Ph.D. student, suggested the creation of a FLI Voluntary Student Organization (VSO) to serve as a central hub for the graduate community, especially for students in departments without an established FLI support organization. 

Third-year earth systems Ph.D. student June Choi presented the council with a history of student protests against the Doerr School of Sustainability, which has taken donations from fossil fuel companies since its 2022 opening. Choi called on the GSC to engage the student body in these issues. 

The GSC also voted to approve seven funding requests, including a Catalan cultural event set for Dec. 9. Tom Liu, funding committee chair and fourth-year physics Ph.D. student, summarized a bill to streamline the funding process for VSOs by removing the $45 per person soft cap, and instead setting a hard cap at $7000 per year per organization.