Graduate Student Government (GSG): Leadership, Mission, and Initiatives

Written by Erin Michel, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate School

Get to Know the E-Board

A women in a black turtleneck and gold necklace smiles at the camera.
Dominique Tanner
  • Role and Background: GSG President, 4th Year Biomedical Engineering PhD student
  • Academic interests/research: Dominique studies seizure prediction among patients who suffer from epilepsy, aiming to improve quality of life and health outcomes. 
  • Why she decided to join GSG: Dominique loves being involved with students, administration, and community members. She is grateful to get to know students on a more personal level, to be a part of bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, and to cater to students’ academic, professional, and research goals. 
  • Fun facts: Dominique has a rescue dog named Coffee and has played the saxophone for more than 20 years. 
A man in a palm tree blazer with a green bandana looks of to the side, smiling.
Dalton Cooper
  • Role and Background: GSG Vice President, 3rd Year Experimental Psychology PhD student
  • Contact: 
  • Academic interests/research: Dalton’s research centers around how environmental information shapes the way humans make decisions about action as well as how changes to this information can influence how actions are executed. 
  • Why he decided to join GSG: Dalton held positions in student government during his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Lancaster University in England and enjoyed being able to improve systems of communication between students and administration. 
  • Fun facts: Dalton went from using a wheelchair as a child to being a rugby player for over 10 years, even competing in some national tournaments in England. 
A woman in a red cheetah print shirt and red lipstick looks thoughtfully into the camera, her hand to her chin.

Aida Ramusovic

  • Role and Background: GSG Treasurer, 2nd Year Political Science PhD student 
  • Academic interests/research: Aida is interested in cross section between politics, media, and new technologies. 
  • Why she decided to join GSG: Aida decided to join the E-Board because she wanted to make a significant impact on student life. Coming from a nontraditional academic path, working as a senior journalist for 15 years, and being an international student and mother has given her a unique perspective when it comes to handling finances as well as advocating for students. 
  • Fun facts: Aida founded a media nonprofit in Montenegro, where she is from. Also, she is a yogi and loves to cook. 
A man in a suit with slicked back hair smiles and holds his jacket slung over his arm.

Austin Hall

  • Role and Background: GSG Campus Ambassador, 3rd Year History PhD student 
  • Academic interests/research: Austin’s main area of study includes the rise and fall of the first wave of American Nazism, public history with a focus in documentary theater and museums, and rural/urban expansion in American history. 
  • Why he decided to join GSG: Austin has been involved with student government at two other institutions (Thiel College and Miami University), so he already holds a passion for affecting direct change in student communities. He hopes to be a higher education administrator one day and views GSG as an opportunity to learn about administration/student relationships while making a difference in UC student life. 
  • Fun facts: Austin got married this past summer. Also, he is an Ohio state certified baseball umpire.  

2021-2022 GSG: Bringing Diverse Students Together 

“We are misfits who are a very good fit,” Aida tells me, laughing. “It’s an unusual leadership team, and I believe that’s our strength.” This was a common theme that arose in my conversation with all four GSG E-board members, this sense of pride in difference and excitement at the opportunity for each leader to represent distinct and diverse aspects of UC’s student body. Not only is the E-board disciplinarily diverse (hailing from engineering, the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities), but they also represent personal identity characteristics that have not been represented in this kind of role at UC before. 

“Being the GSG president, I am the first Black person/Black woman to serve in this role,” says Dominique. “And it’s so vital. It’s so pivotal, because I really believe in the representation that GSG works hard to stand for.” Additionally, both Aida and Dalton are proud to represent the international student community at UC. According to UC's Institutional Research Office, the graduate student body is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse every year, so it is only fitting that the leadership body should be reflective of this progress. And, as Dominique points out, representation matters. “It really speaks to what UC says as a whole, ‘next lives here.’ And I believe it does. Next lives here for people who look like me, who want to be in these really big leadership positions, but maybe are a little scared.” Dalton agrees about the importance of diverse representation in GSG, saying, “The student experience can vary depending on what kind of background you’re coming into UC with. Having people who are aware of the challenges faced is the first step to getting those challenges addressed.”  

It is also exciting to have leaders from varied academic backgrounds. “Dominique is in bioengineering, and that gives you a completely different perspective on how to solve problems and get more creative than ever [....] and a very, very precise mind.” says Aida. “I come from more of a business side of things, so that’s different. And [as a historian], Austin is thinking about how to organize all of these ideas.” Dalton comes from a social sciences background, where his studies involve channeling people’s thought processes. The officers agree that disciplinary representation is important and is a trend that they hope to see continue. 

“That was one of the reasons I ran,” adds Austin. “There really have not been a lot of humanities representatives for student government in the past 20-odd years, because by and large most of our funding programs are shorter.” Austin points out that many humanities students (including himself, prior to running) are unaware that student government is a paid position and therefore can help finance their education. “Hopefully, [I will] open the door for some more humanities people to follow in after me so that we can continue having a diverse and effective executive board.” 

This overarching emphasis on diversity and representation can be seen throughout all aspects of GSG’s work this year. A guiding philosophy throughout their agenda is an effort to reach and unify diverse groups of students and academic disciplines, expanding funding and programming to students who have traditionally been less aware of the wealth of opportunities that student government has to offer. They also want to ensure that students of all identities are being heard and advocated for, so a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee has been established to guide this work. 

Projects and Initiatives

What specific projects are on the horizon this year to put this guiding philosophy into concrete action? Firstly, several initiatives center around the expansion of funding to better serve a range of students. As treasurer, Aida has begun tracking and analyzing the distribution of awards by department on a semesterly basis, so that GSG can begin to provide targeted outreach and support to those programs who are underrepresented in funding distribution. For many years, GSG has offered an array of financial support to both individuals and student groups for needs ranging from events and supplies to research needs to conference and travel funding. New for 2021-2022, however, GSG is excited to announce the expansion of funding for two new areas—professional organization membership fees for individual students, and community grants for non-GSA student organizations. 

 “We’re trying to make [the funding process] more transparent and trying to get as much money as possible to the graduate students,” says Austin. “We raised more money, we have a bigger budget, and we want to give that money away.” Aida agrees, saying, “I’m proud to give all grad students money. So, you know, whatever [....] kind of idea they have, we have so many awards and I’m there to guide them through that process to get the money they need.” Aida encourages students to reach out to her directly for more information and support in obtaining funding for their ideas. For more information on GSG funding, click here.  

Similarly, another priority is making both new and existing resources more readily available and apparent to graduate students. Dalton points out that in contrast to undergraduates, sometimes graduate students can feel a bit siloed off in their own individual programs and less tapped into the many things that a university as large as UC has to offer them. “As graduate students, one of the things we need the most is to be able to know what is available to us at all times. It can be really difficult to find things, and we don’t have a lot of time to go looking. We’ve got a lot on our plates, so if [resources] are not presented to us in an easily accessible way, a lot of people will just go without knowing what could have helped them. And that’s one thing I want to try and reduce.” 

GSG also endeavors to bring students together through interdisciplinary programming. Two specific initiatives that they hope to revive this year are the Spring Ball and Grad Café. As with all aspects of their work, the E-board team is bringing their own unique spin to 2022 Spring Ball. This year, the event will take the form of an interdisciplinary conference where graduate students from across the entirety of UC can come together to share and celebrate their research, network, and gain experience in presenting their work. This will be an exceptionally valuable opportunity, especially for first- or second-year students who haven’t gotten a chance to present their work formally and are not able to travel or raise the funds necessary for an external conference. The ball itself will serve as the culmination and closing celebration of the conference, and awards will be presented.  

Similarly, Grad café is a recurring casual, social opportunity for students to, as Dominique puts it, “have a muffin, have a coffee, congregate, socialize, [experience] fellowship, debrief, make friends, and just have a good time.” While this event series has been on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the E-board team hopes to bring it back soon in an adapted, virtual format. Dominique points out that graduate students, being as active as busy as they are, sometimes forget to enjoy the social aspect of graduate school, and GSG hopes that Grad Café will create the time and space for students to pursue this vital sense of connection. For more information on Spring Ball, Grad Café, and the rest of GSG’s signature programs, visit this page.  

Finally, GSG is aiming to expand access of necessary materials and resources. “We want to make sure that as students matriculate through their graduate program, they’re equipped with the necessities that will help them continue down that path. So, we are working with UC libraries to acquire some equipment, and hopefully by next semester we can have students sign up,” says Dominique. Specific materials they hope to acquire will include laptops and other necessary electronic devices.  

This range of new and improved initiatives is certainly impressive, but the E-Board wants to make it clear that they are not acting alone. Previous generations of GSG have put in a lot of effort and planning for these projects, but the onset of COVID-19 slowed down implementation. “I don’t want to say that it’s only our initiative[s],” says Aida. “We brought it to the finish line, but it’s really not [just] our effort. It’s the effort of previous generations that we are carrying forward.” And the team would like to thank the graduate student body as well for their role in this process. “I am extremely grateful to the entire graduate student population for being so patient with us [in] trying to get all of these initiatives up and running, because it does take time,” adds Austin. “We are very actively pushing a rather progressive and inclusive agenda, which I think speaks well to the graduate student community.”Replace with your text

Get Involved With Student Government

How can students contribute to the important work of GSG? There are several ways, ranging from joining committees or GSAs to simply reaching out to the e-board with feedback and suggestions. “Anybody is allowed to be involved with GSG. I would highly encourage them to be involved with their GSA first so they can get their feet wet, step into what student government at UC looks like, and if they’re interested [join a GSG committee],” says Austin. Currently, GSG is seeking graduate students to serve on the following committees: 

Award Committees:  

  • PMGSE – Presidential Medal of Graduate Student Excellence  

  • Group/Community Grants  

  • Research Fellowships  

  • Graduate Student Excellence Awards  

Event and Policy Committees:  

  • Campus Outreach   

  • Spring Ball  

  • Mental Health  

  • Professional Development  

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  

Interested students can reach out to Austin via email or through GSG's facebook page. Additionally, the officers encourage students to reach out to them directly with any general feedback, concerns, or ideas for new projects or initiatives. “We are trying to be very open with our students, so we really appreciate any kind of comments. If somebody sees something that needs to be worked on... we would love them to contact us [so we can try to] solve all these things that they are finding important,” says Aida. Clearly, GSG is excited to collaborate with students to push for a more inclusive and unified graduate school. And I, for one, cannot wait to see how it all turns out.