Incoming graduate and professional student government presidents discuss goals

The incoming presidents for the Council of Graduate Students and the Professional Student Government talk about their plans and initiatives.

The Council of Graduate Students President-elect Tommy Keller.

Photo Courtesy Tommy Keller

The Council of Graduate Students President-elect Tommy Keller.

Kait Ecker

The Minnesota Daily recently sat down with the incoming presidents of Professional Student Government and Council of Graduate Students to discuss their goals and planned initiatives.

Tommy Keller: incoming president of COGS

How will you be fulfilling your campaign promises?

The travel grants is a big part of that. [Current President] Sean [Chen] and I have both been in contact with people involved in the [University of Minnesota’s] Graduate Assistant Health Plan, and we’re still waiting to hear back on certain questions that we have had, but hopefully that has a productive conclusion for everyone. 

Why is this – the travel grants – something you’ve really taken up?

Part of being a graduate student is presenting your research, and that means going to where the conferences are. They don’t necessarily always come to you. …

Being able to travel and support yourself is the crucial part in getting to those conferences to present your research. Because not only is it important for your own professional development, it’s also part of networking. 

Are there any other things that you’ll be continuing from this leadership this next year?

Mental health is the perennial issue. It was brought up in the report to the Board of Regents from the student representatives. And I do think there is positive progress, and so it’s always a question of, ‘OK, now that we’ve done this, what’s the next step?’

Are you nervous about anything about taking on such a large leadership role?

I’ve been involved in student government for a number of years, so I think that’s helped a lot just in terms of knowing who the people are, the roles, who you go to if you have a certain question. …

I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do this year … and I’m looking forward to building off of that.

Joshua Clancy: incoming president of the PSG

Mental health was a huge aspect of your campaign along with environmental sustainability. … What kind of projects will you be working on?

The work that PSG has done around mental health in the past is phenomenal, and I’m looking forward to keep on championing that and working on some of the initiatives. …

In terms of environmental sustainability goals of mine, it’s still something I’m working on formulating a plan for. But it’s something I think I’m going to try to keep PSG and student government in general involved in.

Looking forward, what are your hopes? 

A deep commitment to equity for the Professional Student Government, I think that’s one of the things that … is the most important to me is that we institute that cultural shift. Of having that run the breadth and the depth of the organization.

How specifically will you be continuing projects that …  PSG leadership have initiated?

I’m considering continuing on especially collaborating with COGS and their incoming president Tommy Keller. He has some pretty strong ideas … around mental health — you know the push for decreasing the stigma of mental health and increasing students knowledge of where they can access services when they need to. …

PSG in particular has been a strong stakeholder in the PIPSM, the President’s Initiative [to Prevent] Sexual Misconduct’s push, and that’s something I’m very interested in when I continue PSG’s commitment to being one of the drivers of change in that area.

Is there anything else you’d like to add to the conversation about your goals for the year?

It’s going to be a big change, you know, stepping into the role of presidency. I hope that we can continue some of the initiatives that PSG has started, you know, and that I can put my own stamp of equity and environmental sustainability on the PSG organization as a whole.