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Council of Graduate Students elects new president, executive board

March 15, 2019
Members listen at a COGs meeting in the Law College on Feb. 13, 2019.
Members listen at a COGs meeting in the Law College on Feb. 13, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Council of Graduate Students, or COGS, elected a president and a new executive board for the 2019-20 school year at their Wednesday meeting.

PhD student Meagan Abel was elected as the next president of COGS, with 46 members in favor and two opposed. Abel is studying criminal justice and currently serves as the graduate student government's treasurer. During her candidacy speech, Abel spoke about her experience on the board, and what she would like to see improved for graduate students.

“One of the things that I've learned this year is there’s ... a lot of problems that we still need to solve," Abel said. "Graduate students survivors do not have all the resources they need to process and heal from their trauma. We are not doing enough at the university to prevent graduate student and professional students from being victims of sexual assault and harassment.

“We as graduate students have high rates of mental illness and receive relatively little institutional support or attention for those issues."

Abel also spoke about her goals for the coming year. She wants to continue to push for change at the university, meet the needs of graduate students and make room for marginalized voices.

“I'm ready to use what I've learned to lead us forward," Abel said in her speech. "I'm ready for all of us together to make this university just a little bit better than how we found it."

Abel ran against law student Danielle Jones. Jones was unable to be physically present during the election because she was in a car accident while on her way to the meeting. Despite being diagnosed with a concussion, Jones gave a speech via Skype, but ultimately did not garner enough votes to be elected the next president of COGS.

Jones also ran for Vice President for External Affairs, and was elected to the position with 44 votes in favor and four opposed.

Parliamentarian of COGS Ian Beck spoke in favor of Jones running.

"She is someone who truly cares about stepping beyond the four walls of this building to make sure the graduate community … has its needs met," Beck said, adding that Jones also works to bridge the gap between to the law and graduate schools.

Vice President for Internal Affairs Diondra Straiton ran unopposed and was re-elected to the position. Members spoke in favor of Straiton’s streamlining processes and efficient communication with the organization. She was endorsed by the current president of COGS, Ben Burke.

PhD student Kaitlyn Casulli ran unopposed for the treasurer position. Casulli sat as a general member during the past year, and was elected with 45 in favor and two opposed.

“Money really touches everything and I want to make sure that COGS is spending money in the most highly efficient and effective way possible," Casulli said. "It would just be an honor and privilege to serve all of you in the next year."

The last position was for the role of recording secretary. PhD student Hunter McFall-Boegeman ran last minute, also unopposed, for the position. After giving a short speech, he was quickly elected to the position. Current recording secretary Gloria Nzeka spoke in favor of his work ethic, particularly with assisting with the graduate academic conference, which was voted on during the last COGS meeting. McFall-Boegemann won the election with 47 in favor and two abstentions.

The next COGS meeting will take place on April 10. The current e-board will sit their last meeting, with the incoming members holding their first meeting immediately after.

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