Statements from Secretary-Treasurer Candidates

The following statements are from the two candidates for GEO Secretary-Treasurer.

Hong Yan:

I have been a GEO member since September of 2009, the moment I came to University of Massachusetts Amherst. As a graduate student in the department of Asian Languages and Literatures, I really enjoy my life as a student and teaching assistant at the same time. During this whole year, I can see how GEO works for fairness and benefit of us graduate student employees. As an international student, I am impressed by the far-reaching events and activities which pay much attention to issues that affect us. I was inspired to participate in the activities and desire to be a GEO staff, so that I can devote myself to the organization which has been helping us all the time. Now I’m so proud of myself being a nominee for the Secretary/Treasurer position. The responsibility of Secretary/Treasurer involves not only finance and budget issue, but also involves the function and organization of the office and meetings. I will try my best to do everything as perfect as I can.

David Wemhoener:

My name is David Wemhoener, and I am running for the Treasurer/Secretary position in GEO. I am a first year graduate student in the Labor Studies program whose bachelors degree is in Economics and Social Thought & Political Economy. As a member of GEO I have a vested interest in seeing someone competent and committed in the Treasurer/Secretary position. I have much experience that I can bring to the position, and I am confident in my ability to maintain the budget and explain financial issues to inquiring members of our union as well as keep accurate records of GEO meetings.

As an undergraduate student, I served as treasurer for the Sylvan Area Government, which is the representative student organization for the student residents of the Sylvan living area at UMass Amherst. My responsibilities included purchasing goods, tracking expenses, designing the next year’s budget, appealing to the Student Government Association for funding, and designing budgets for events that sometimes included hundreds of people. I also took part in the rewriting of the government’s constitution. As a sophomore, I held the position of secretary for the House Council of Brown residence hall. I also worked last year as an intern on a financial literacy education project, in which I was part of a team responsible for educating students on financial issues such as savings, loans, budgeting, and long-term planning. This year I am the treasurer for the Labor Center student caucus.

Those in power are unlikely to take us very seriously if we can’t even manage our own union. Effective management of own finances gives us ammunition when we ask questions of the university administration, the state government, or the federal government regarding its choices on how to raise money and where to allocate it. We need to have individuals working for GEO who can sift through and understand the budget documents which break down the manner in which resources for this university are allocated.

Those who we would seek to reach out to, be they nonparticpatory graduate students, other university community members, or the general population of unorganized workers, are unlikely to trust or throw in their lot with an organization which can’t keep good records and manage its own finances. It is important to acknowledge and counter the narrative of unions as corrupt organizations run by shady individuals doing deals behind their membership’s backs. By ensuring GEO has detailed minutes and keeping our finances in order, I will make sure that our membership knows that this union is open and honest about how our money is obtained and where it goes to.

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