By The Graduate Press Editorial Board
The spring 2023 Graduate Institute Student Association (GISA) Board election cycle is underway, with candidates running for the positions of President, VP of Master’s, Treasurer, Events Coordinator, and Professional Development Committee (PDC) President.
GISA serves as the voice and principal events organizer for the student body at the Graduate Institute. Members of the GISA board are responsible for hearing student concerns regarding academic and student life, accommodations, and various other issues at the Institute. From April 28th to 30th, IHEID students will have the opportunity to vote online for the candidates they wish to represent them on the GISA Board for the subsequent year. The Graduate Press has reached out to all of the candidates running for the GISA Board this spring and through a series of articles, we will be sharing their platforms. It is crucial that IHEID students engage with the candidates and participate in this year’s election in order to ensure the GISA Board can meet all of the needs of present and future IHEID students.
We spoke to Sameeksha Matta, who is running for Treasurer. Here is what she had to say.
Why do you think you are the best candidate for the role of Treasurer?
The reason I decided to run is because I have been pretty involved in the student activities at the Institute. I am already a member of two initiatives. I’m the events coordinator for the Professional Development Committee and I’m also the first-year representative in the Geneva Impact Investing Association. Being a part of these student initiatives has given me a diverse perspective on how things happen at the Institute. It has given me a chance to be involved with the students, and so I know what kinds of demands they have, particularly with the budget. I feel the role of Treasurer binds all of the other GISA members. You obviously need finances to organise and execute so many things at the Institute. I am also in the Sustainable Trade and Finance track, so I thought it would be a good idea to stand for the position of Treasurer. It’s the same for everyone, you see a personal motivation in standing, but the larger objective is to serve the student community. This is a big responsibility, but I am confident that I can do a good job.
How will your experiences as a student at the Institute shape your approach to the role of Treasurer?
This is my first time coming out of my country and studying abroad, and the Institute is so diverse. I remember Professor Rodogno telling us we have students from over 70 countries. So, it really gives you an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I try my best to interact as much as possible with everyone around, including the second year and the PhD students to get a sense of how the student community works, because I think it is different wherever you study. To be elected as a representative of the student association would give me a chance to implement the ideas I have. I want to contribute to a better student experience. My platform mentions a lot of ideas that I would like to implement with the support of the other GISA members as well as the administration at the Institute, and of course, the rest of the student body.
What other experience do you have that you believe qualifies you for the role of Treasurer?
In my undergraduate studies, I was the finance head of one of the student initiatives called Enactus. It is a global social entrepreneurship organization. I was in this role for almost two years, so I know how to manage finances. Although it will be different here, I have experience working with a college or university’s administration in terms of dealing with finances. Of course, things will probably run smoother here, but, that is the perspective I am coming with. Plus, it had an impression on me. That was one of the reasons I wanted to get into finance even though my bachelor’s is in Political Science.
If elected, what would be your primary goal as Treasurer?
My first and foremost goal during the transition from the previous board will be to engage with the current GISA treasurer and understand better how things are run. If I am elected, I will have the opportunity to engage with her and understand the role better. First, I plan to understand how the budget works and how I can contribute to it and make it more efficient. The budget should certainly increase considering that we have more specialisations in MINT. It is complicated because the strength of students in each specialisation is not the same. Apart from that, I want to focus not just on the needs and demands of the MINT students. With MINT being the biggest cohort at the Institute, there is often a lot more focus on MINT, but I want to focus on the disciplinary tracks and work on utilising the budget to their benefit as well. For instance, many students from the disciplinary tracks want to pursue a PhD, maybe at the Institute, maybe somewhere else. So, it will be interesting, also, to work with the VP of PhD students and try to bridge that gap. Another idea that I would like to implement is a student forum where students will have the chance to raise their demands before the budget is released for the semester. I will also make it a point that each student initiative will submit a financial report at the end of the semester to understand how the budget was utilised in that semester. Based on an analysis of that and in collaboration with the other GISA members, we will allocate the funds for the next semester. This will serve as motivation for the initiatives to work harder and improve the quality of events being organised. Another suggestion I have is to put up a suggestion box at the Institute. I have seen this work in other places, but I haven’t seen it at the Institute. We could have a QR code or a proper suggestion box and then have people submit suggestions about events or anything in general to GISA. This will help the GISA understand how we can work toward resolving those issues. There are a few other things like working with Career Services for more jobs on campus. Not everyone here is on a scholarship, so I would also like to advocate for students to have an opportunity to get a scholarship in their second year. I also want to engage with the administration to reduce the meal prices in the cafeteria or provide more options. Lastly, I want to organise a formal fundraiser based on an issue that the current student community is passionate about. I know there are fundraisers happening as part of student initiatives’ activities, but I think a formal GISA fundraiser could be an annual event. These are some of the things on my platform I aim to implement if I am elected.
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