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On Wednesday, the Graduate Student Council elected officers for the 2009–2010 academic year. For the first time in three years, the elections were contested.

GSC officers are elected by the 69 voting members of the council; the voters include the departmental representatives for each graduate department, as well as GSC officers and committee chairs.

Three candidates wanted to lead the GSC this year, and Alex H. Chan G can call himself the new president. He defeated Charles A. Gammal G and Paul R. Monasterio G after convincing the council that he has both the experience and vision to lead.

Kevin McComber G was elected vice president, and Gammal, who also ran for president, was elected secretary. The current vice president, Nan Gu G, will be next year’s treasurer. They will take office at the next GSC meeting on May 6. (Chan is also a Tech staff photographer; his last photos ran in the newspaper in fall 2008.)

The Tech sat down with the new president to discuss his plans for the coming year. Chan, a doctoral student in Science, Technology and Society, has a very ambitious program, and thinks of the financial challenges that face the entire MIT community as a great opportunity to make the GSC even stronger.

Chan believes that he was chosen because of his extensive experience in advocacy as Housing and Community Affairs Committee co-chair, which he thinks is important in the face of budget cuts. In his platform, he promised that, even in these difficult times, he will not only be able to maintain the status quo of graduate student life at MIT but he will “bring it to an entirely different level.” Chan explained that the key elements to achieve this goal are creativity and sustainability.

He referred to the BU/MIT party he helped organize and proudly explains that the event did not cost the GSC a dime. In fact, it earned them several hundred dollars. Chan is convinced that the GSC will find creative solutions to financial issues.

Chan also believes that he will be able to find ways to save money on the long run. He would like MIT to be a pioneer not only in technology, but also in sustainability. He would like to invest in a sustainable campus that will turn all students into responsible citizens and save considerable amounts of money at the same time.

In times of economic decline, he refuses to go into “defense mode,” but prefers to be aggressive instead, coming up with new initiatives to make sure that student life does not deteriorate ahead of time. He also hopes to establish the GSC as the “group that would be willing to go the extra mile to defend everyone’s welfare.”

Chan promises his decision-making will take into account the GSC’s visibility and diversity at MIT. It is his goal to increase the visibility of the GSC, and he wants to get more students involved.

Chan believes that with Charles Gammal, an MBA student, as secretary, he is confident that the council will finally be able to connect with the Sloan students.

Chan also wants to make sure that the activities they organize will attract new people, and he wants to increase the communication between the council and the student body in order to involve as many students as possible in the decision-making process.

Chan’s predecessor, Oaz Nir G, told The Tech that one of the most difficult parts of being president of the GSC is that the organization depends entirely on its volunteers. Chan said he is confident that he will be able to motivate his team.