Senator FAQs

GSS Senators: Frequently Asked Questions

When and where are general senate meetings?

What is the role of a senator?

"In order to effectively communicate Graduate Student Senate's purpose and intent, each Senate member will be expected to attend meetings and disseminate meeting minutes to their respective colleagues and departments. They serve as department and unit representatives on behalf of the Graduate Student Senate, and are thus responsible for the representation of their department or unit. Each Senator may represent a single academic unit or department."     Bylaws: I.B.i.

I was just elected to be a senator. What do I do next?

  1. Contact the Information Services Chair ( to let them know you are the newly elected senator for your academic unite. If you can, please update your alternate senator as well.
  2. Contact your academic unit: Reach out to your department or academic unit to get a listserv or email list of the constituents within your unit. This will be the way you relay information from GSS to your fellow graduate students.
  3. Meetings: You (or the alternate senator) are required to attend all of our general senate meetings. These take place once per month in the Student Center. At the end of the Spring Semester 2019, GSS voted to make attendance at meetings mandatory, so be sure that your academic unit has representation at every meeting. If a senator misses two meetings in the fall, the respective academic unit loses GSS funding eligibility for applications in the spring and summer semesters. Missing two meetings during the spring semester will cause the department to lose fall funding eligibility, as outlined in the contract signed by each senator at the beginning of the fall semester. Academic units can become re-eligible for summer funding if a senator attends three of the four meetings in the spring. A contact will be signed by each senator, their departmental chair, graduate coordinator, and the GSS advisor at the beginning of each semester. Academic unit standing will be posted here.
    1. At meetings, you are encouraged to participate via questions or bringing up new business. Please share any concerns or comments you have throughout the year. Outside of your vocal involvement, senators may vote at meetings regarding budgetary matters, charter and bylaw changes, among other things. This will require you to pick up your academic unit's placard prior to the meeting (available at the entrance of the meeting) and raise it to signify your vote.
  4. Committee representation: Each senator or their designee will be required to sit on one committee per academic year. Such committees, which can be ad hoc or standing, can be either external or internal to GSS. Proceedings of internal GSS committees will be reported by the chairs of those committees. Proceedings of external committees will be reported by each senator here. All reports will be managed by the Vice Executive Chair.

Other frequently asked questions:

What is my job as a senator?

As a senator for GSS, you are responsible for coming to general senate meetings, being involved with a university committee, and acting as a liaison between GSS and the fellow graduate students within your academic unit.

What are the awards offered by GSS?

GSS offers the Domestic Travel Award ($300), International Travel Award ($1,500), Research Award ($2,000), and organizational funding (by request). For further information about the awards, click here. Deadlines vary by year. Be sure to check the awards page for the up-to-date deadlines.

How do I contact constituents within my academic unit?

Please contact your department to find a listserv or email list for graduate students within your academic unit. GSS suggests first contacting your department chair or secretary. 

How do I become a senator?

Deciding upon a senator is up to your academic unit. Some vote while others decide on a volunteer basis. Please reach out to your academic unit to find out further information on how to become a senator. We would suggest speaking with the current or past senator from your academic unit. You can find a list of current senators here.

Is there food at the Senate meetings?

Yes, food is served at general Senate meetings. GSS has sent out a survey to current senators to allow them to vote which breakfast options they would prefer to have at the next meeting. This ensures senators are deciding what they eat as well as giving them greater ability to have a say in budgetary decisions.

What is an alternate senator?

An alternate senator is another elected or selected position within your academic unit who has the ability to fill in for you at Senate meetings should anything arise that keeps you from attending.