During their Tuesday night meeting, the Ohio University Graduate Student Senate named Commissioner for Housing, Transportation and Parking Zachary Watts the new vice president for legislative affairs. 

Former GSS Vice President for Legislative Affairs Christopher Glick announced at the Oct. 10 meeting that he would be resigning due to a “conflict of interest.”

Towards the end of the meeting, GSS President Maria Modayil called for an executive session during which body members selected the candidate for the position. 

After a 30-minute discussion, the session ended and the body took a vote. From the plurality of votes, Watts was selected for the position.

“I would encourage all of you to do the best you can to keep your personal, political ideological beliefs out of this body and out of these meetings,” Watts said. “I feel like if we do that, we can all work together more effectively and efficiently to get things done for this campus and for graduate students.” 

Watts said he looks forward to working with the body for the rest of the semester.

Earlier in the meeting, Modayil invited Athens Mayor Steve Patterson to discuss including graduate students in conversations about improving the city.

“I’m the kind of guy that likes to get opportunities out there for any interesting idea,” Patterson said. 

Patterson recalled a conversation he had with Director for TechGROWTH Ohio John Glazer about putting together “teams of student engineers” from TechGROWTH or the Russ College of Engineering to come up with ideas for the community.

Six months later, Glazer told Patterson that he worked with a team of student engineers and came forward with a micro hydro system the city could use.

Patterson told GSS that he views Athens as “an urban lab” and encouraged students to share interesting ideas on topics such as energy. 

When asked about concerns of certain streets in town not having enough street lights, Patterson said it was possible to add lights, but concerned students would need to contact the City Building and voice their concern.

Patterson then explained that he, City Council and Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle go on “safety tours” when concerns like that are pointed out. If people are concerned about the safety of an area, they drive there and see if it reaches the standard. 

Modayil told Patterson that she wishes to continue conversations about the city and is “looking into seeing if we can put a commissioner position to be that liaison for the city.”

GSS meets bi-weekly in Walter 235.



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