DL: What do you see as the biggest issues facing the graduate community?
JC: The two issues that directly impact graduate students the most are the availability of research funds at the institutional and state level as well as the cost of attendance and the employment opportunities available to graduate students in New Mexico once they complete degrees.
It hasn’t really been discussed by this University that graduate students here leave with more debt relative to their peers nationwide and encounter fewer employment opportunities in the state.
DL: If elected, how will you work to address these?
JC: Research funding — It is important for GPSA to internally come up with strategies to better leverage institutional funding for graduate research purposes. I think utilizing SFRB and discretionary funds that are unique to GPSA. It is necessary to address this issue on a state level …
Attendance costs — When it comes to tuition, TA and GA-ships we need to engage the institution in a discussion about the budgeting and resource allocation process. We need early and strong involvement, that is absent currently, to ensure we are spending our money in the smartest way possible to protect students. We have to recognize that this problem impacts all public universities. We receive the highest level of state funding in the nation for our operating budget, but we are approaching a cliff and the state is unable to maintain level of support. …
Employment — I’m proposing a new and exciting vision for the organization. I would actively go out and make connections with business community and push the University to step up efforts. I would be the No. 1 salesperson for graduate students in New Mexico. I would hit the pavement as much as I could.
DL: What is your experience, and how does it distinguish you from the other candidates?
JC: I think that I am the only candidate in the race with the experience at both state and institutional level. I know how the budget works and know the management problems with the University, pair that with strong relationships at state level with people who can take action.
DL: You are new to UNM this semester. What is your impression of GPSA?
JC: It is a passionate organization, but it needs direction. It needs to clearly articulate an agenda and tackle issues that actually matter to graduate students. They need to focus on actually working for their constituents. I am particularly concerned by the GPSA’s relationship with administration and undergraduates. I would work to move us past a lot of the bickering and confrontation to build strong, collaborative relationships between staff, faculty, administration and the student body.
DL: Would you be willing to work with ASUNM to improve this relationship?
JC: My leadership style would be one of inclusion and collaboration. I would actively reach out to ASUNM because a lot of issues facing the UNM makes sense for us to work together to address. I would be willing to get a cup of coffee with incoming president monthly or weekly.
DL: Why is it important for student governments like GPSA to be active on campus?
JC: Inevitably, this institution’s mission is to serve students.
Students are not at the table in a meaningful way throughout the entirety of the budgetary process. It is impossible to adequately fulfill its mission. How can the University respond to needs of the client if it fails to understand the client’s needs?