New members were appointed to Graduate Student Senate, and the first two amendments of the Spring semester were passed Tuesday.

The amendments will allow $1,000 from GSS funds to be donated to Cats Cupboard, a food pantry that provides OU students with fresh produce, non-perishables and personal care items. In addition, GSS will be advocating for the Academic and Global Communication Program at Ohio University to continue.

Cats’ Cupboard has seen an increase in students utilizing this resource while also seeing a decrease in the donations it is receiving, Nick Whitticar, translational biomedical sciences department representative, said.

GSS will be donating $1,000 by purchasing needed items for Cats’ Cupboard, as they are not allowed to donate money directly, Amid Vahedi, GSS treasurer, said.

“According to (Cats’ Cupboard), $25 can provide a three-day supply of food to a student,” Whitticar said. “By doing $1,000, we would supply 40 students with three days worth of food and other products.”

The Graduate Writing Center, among other writing organizations, will try to front-load the service of the Academic and Global Communication program, Kaelyn Ferris, GSS president, said. The program aids graduate and undergraduate students in learning English communication skills. The AGC program offers presentation and pronunciation tutoring for graduate students, Amal Shimir, GSS vice president, said. The program will be ending in May 2021 due to financial reasons.

“I know international students, they come sometimes with lack of confidence because it's their not native language, and they have the accent ... ” Shimir said. “And they would shy away from public speaking. They would put themselves in a corner. They are afraid and things like that.” 

Four new members were appointed to GSS. Among these four, there are two new department representatives and two new commissioners. Madison Burris is now the department representative for physical therapy, and Fatou Drammeh is the department representative for African studies. Kieran James Minton is the commissioner of mental health affairs, and Joseph Gbandi is the commissioner of graduate affairs: housing.

The Student Health Insurance Committee updated GSS members about a new payment structure for next year. In addition to the 0% increase on graduate student’s premiums, there will also be a modified payment schedule.

Instead of paying for six months over the course of both Spring and Fall Semester, students will choose different plans. These plans will ensure that students who will not be taking summer classes, or will spend a semester away from campus, will not need to pay for health insurance. However, the price of health insurance will not decrease, Ferris said.