As the official representative government for Berkeley graduate students, the Graduate Assembly (GA) provides a number of critical services to UC Berkeley graduate students. The GA organizes social events, allowing students to form connections with other graduate and professional students beyond their own departments or colleges. It is a space where individual identities are affirmed through intentional programming and community building. It is also the main vehicle through which grad students advocate for themselves: where issues affecting the grad student population are discussed, best practices are shared by delegates, and collective work is done to eliminate institutional barriers.
There are many ways to get involved beyond being a delegate, including paid positions. To learn more about the GA, go to ga.berkeley.edu.
Name, Position: Iman Sylvain, President
Academic Department: Plant and Microbial Biology
Number of Years Involved in the GA: 4
Primary Issues of Interest: Diversity, Shared Governance, Voter Registration, Sexual Assault Prevention, Environmental Sustainability
What is your role? As the President of the GA, I am the spokesperson for a highly skilled and very capable but incredibly busy constituency, collecting the narratives and concerns of graduate students from across a wide array of programs and departments and raising their issues to decision-makers throughout the UC system. I strive to include graduate student perspective to all major campus initiatives and relevant social movements. After four years of engagement in student government ranging from department-level to national coalitions, I am able to put the issues of Berkeley grad students into a broader context and unravel the ways that policies impact grad students, as well as UC Regent policies, on-campus administrations, and relationships with faculty mentors. I view my role as the resounding and reassuring figure that echoes “Graduate Students Shall No Longer Be Exploited”.
What is something you’d like students to know about the GA? The GA has a long history of engaging in social/political movements, which have not only changed the campus but the entire nation. I would like the graduate students to remember that we are powerful, and our voices matter emphatically. We are the workhorse of the university. Without our labor in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, or out in the streets, this institution would not have the national prestige that it does today, but the maintenance of that prestige should not cost your happiness or well-being.
Name, Position: Dax viviD, Campus Affairs Vice President (CAVP)
Academic Department: Integrative Biology
Number of Years Involved in the GA: 4 years
Primary Issues of Interest: Wellness, Diversity, Healthy Relationships Across the Campus, Housing
What is your role? I envision the CAVP to synthesize reoccurring themes and ideas and to connect individuals and groups with common goals to accomplish the change they want to see.
What is something you’d like students to know about the GA? The GA is what we make it. It is funding for social events, it is a space for reflection and action, and it is a community. Graduate students have countless other commitments and expectations, but we play an important part of our campus ecosystem. We can shape this ecosystem to support us and, in turn, better support our ecosystem.
Name, Position: Kena Hazelwood-Carter, Internal Vice President (IVP)
Academic Department: School Psychology
Number of Years Involved in the GA: 3
Primary Issues of Interest: Equity, Reproductive Justice, Fostering Educational Attainment
What is your role? The role of the IVP is to be a facilitator. I help to connect the dots. I am responsible for delegate outreach as well as planning and chairing the Graduate Assembly when it meets. Between meetings I coordinate delegates, the greater graduate student body, and graduate student organizations, along with the resources they need.
What does the GA mean to you? I believe in the power of the GA to be an empowering and uniting force; it is a space where graduate students can come together to address areas of deficit, advocate for themselves and others, and build community. We remind campus stakeholders that ‘students’ must also refer to graduate students. Moreover, we ensure that the unique needs of our population are recognized and met.
Name, Position: Jonathan Morris, External Affairs Vice President (EAVP)
Academic Department: Applied Science & Technology
Number of Years Involved in the GA: 3
Primary Issues of Interest: Housing and Standard of Living, Campus-Community Relations, UC Graduate Program Quality and Accessibility
What is your role? External Affairs covers a range of issues from UC system-wide issues like state funding levels and federal research funding advocacy to local issues like housing policy and the community bicycle plan. The EAVP’s role is to get graduate students involved and facilitate graduate student’s efforts to make a difference.
What does the GA mean to you? The GA is an opportunity to interact with students in multiple fields, with diverse life experiences and perspectives, while working to better the graduate experience.