GSS elects new president, treasurer; Parliamentarian resigns

The Graduate Student Senate elected a new president, treasurer and two new senators at their meeting on Feb. 15. These new elected positions follow the resignation of the former president two weeks ago. (Jordan Richardson/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Graduate Student Senate elected a new president, treasurer and two new senators at their senate meeting Wednesday night. The organization’s parliamentarian also put forth his resignation at the senate meeting.

Tony Patelunas was elected as the new GSS president, after the resignation of former president Chriss Sneed two weeks ago at the organization’s last meeting. Patelunas was GSS president last year. He will serve as president through the end of the semester.

Patelunas spent his first two years as a GSS senator before being elected president last year. Patelunas ran unopposed for the position this year.

“We had record numbers of senators serving on committees at the university,” Patelunas said, of his previous time as president. “That’s something that I’m very proud of.”

Patelunas also mentioned he spent his evening in Hartford at the state capitol testifying on behalf of reducing budget cuts to the university.

Harshul Khanna was elected as GSS treasurer. Khanna has previous experience as president and treasurer of the mathematics club and the cricket team as an undergraduate.

During question sessions for both president and treasurer, the topic of whether executive positions should be paid was brought up.

Patelunas said he thinks paying students in executive positions incentivizes involvement in GSS, but that’s not the ultimate reason behind taking a leadership position.

“The executive board role is not meant to be a paid role. It’s a leadership role to really help shape the community and communicate between the student body and the administration,” Patelunas said.

Khanna said he is in favor of executive positions being paid, but he is willing to serve as treasurer without pay.

GSS vice president Matthew Parent was serving as acting GSS president and treasurer up until the elections.

“I have one less office now. I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Parent joked after Khanna was elected.

GSS parliamentarian Donyeil Hoy sent in a letter of resignation at Wednesday’s senate meeting. Hoy did not attend the meeting.

“The recent administrative push to enforce policies that are detrimental to the functioning of GSS and the integrity of the organization has made me very uncomfortable in maintaining my position as the current parliamentarian,” the letter read. Sneed resigned for similar reasons, following the forced resignation of former treasurer Deepthi Varghese.

Varghese was forced to resign, as she is an international student and was classified as an employee as treasurer of GSS. Under an F-1 student visa, employment is restricted. The position of GSS treasurer violated those restrictions.

Hoy’s letter continues, “I find that I can no longer align myself with these policies without compromising my own values and stances on social justice.”

GSS also elected two new senators at-large, Sam Surowitz and Shannon Mooney. At-large senators represent graduate students as a whole, instead of specific constituencies.

Surowitz previously served in Undergraduate Student Government as a commuter senator and ex-officio senator for the Veteran’s Oasis. He was also president of the Veterans Student Organization. Surowitz is currently working to establish a veterans organization for graduate students.

Mooney said she ran for senator because she wants to get more involved on campus and stay informed.


Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.