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Internal Committees

GSS is comprised of a variety of committees that do a majority of the work for the organization. These committees are made up of senators and unelected graduate students and have been given specific charges by the GSS President and the bylaws. Click on a committee to learn more and get involved!

The Committee on Programming and Events shall be responsible for promoting the GSS, as well as increasing its transparency and its ability to communicate with Students. Any GSS Senator may serve on the Committee on Programming and Events. The Committee is charged with hosting no less than one graduate student social event per academic semester except during summer/mini semesters. The Committee is charged with hosting an annual Town Hall, which will facilitate communication between Students and University administrators. The Committee (in concert with the new Communications Director role) will distribute information concerning GSS events. Information may include, but is not limited to, flyers, posters, online events calendars, social media, emails, and weekly and/or monthly newsletters.

Finance Committee shall oversee the Annual Fundraiser. A subcommittee specific to the Annual Fundraiser may be established to facilitate planning and public relations duties prior to the event. Funds raised by the Annual Fundraiser shall be used to benefit a campus organization or institution, as agreed upon by the Finance and Executive Committees.

The Legislative Steering Committee shall be responsible for aiding Senators and other internal committees in drafting proposals for legislation. Duties and responsibilities:

  1. to set both short-term and long-term goals for the GSS by identifying matters of concern to be addressed by internal Committees for current and following academic years;
  2. to work with internal and external Committees to determine the needs of Students;
  3. to assist internal Committees with the development and drafting of legislation;
  4. to review the GSS Constitution and Bylaws and recommend any changes deemed necessary for consideration; and
  5. to coordinate legislation with the Student Government Association and Faculty Senate.

The mission of the Committee on Travel Awards is to advance the interests of Students and promote research by easing Students’ financial burden of travel. The Committee on Travel Awards shall be responsible for sustaining, evaluating, and administering the GSS Travel Award funds at least three times per academic year. Any GSS Senator may serve on the Committee on Travel Awards. The Committee will participate in the travel fund application deliberation process led by the President, Vice President, and/or Chair. The Committee shall be responsible for evaluating issues in allocating awards and catering the evaluation process to best represent the most fair and equitable process possible. The Committee shall work with the Graduate School to administer funds.

The Committee on Equity and Diversity shall be responsible for identifying, evaluating, and advocating for issues pertinent to the graduate student experience in matters related to and that promote equity and diversity. This includes gathering and presenting all relevant data pertaining to the equity and diversity of our graduate and professional student body; and determining issues and areas of concern that disproportionately impact minority student groups.

The Institutional Advocacy and Advisory Committee is a combination of the prior “Committee on Graduate Student Well-being,” succeeded by the “Institutional Advisory Committee,” and the “Graduate Student Senate Advisory Committee.” The reimagining of these committees is a work in progress for the 2023-2024 academic year. While new bylaw updates are being considered, please find the older committee descriptions reported.

The Committee on Graduate Student Well-being shall be responsible for advocating for Students regarding matters that impact Students’ physical, mental, emotional, and social health. The Committee on Graduate Student Well-being shall be responsible for gathering data and information regarding the needs and concerns of Students, and for coordinating with internal and external committees to enact changes to existing policies and procedures in accordance with the Committee’s advocacy of Students.

The Graduate Student Senate Advisory Committee shall be responsible for serving students by providing a voice for students through the development of legislation, organization of events, and/or engagement in other activities that do not fall under the purview of existing Committees, as directed by the President. All graduate and professional students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville are eligible to sit on this committee.

The Judiciary Committee shall consist of four Senators, appointed from the floor by the President, hereinafter referred to as Justices. Three Justices shall serve as Primary Justices, while the fourth serves as an Alternate Justice. The role of this committee is to determine the validity of measures passed by the GSS, in conjunction with the GSS Constitution and GSS Bylaws. The Judiciary Committee shall also be responsible for receiving appeals of removal and impeachment submitted by elected officers, appointees, and Senators, as outlined in Article V of the GSS Constitution.


Committee Chair Archive


  • Lufuno Phophi/Adaora Ede – Equity and Diversity
  • Hannah Thompson – Legislation Steering
  • Kassie Hollabaugh – Travel Awards
  • Tabatha Rainwater – Institutional Advocacy
  • Bre Schaffer- Graduate Student Senate Advisory
  • Austin Conte – Programming and Events
  • Anirban Roy – Finance and Annual Fundraiser
  • Aman Misra – International Student Support Ad Hoc


  • Lufuno Phophi – Equity and Diversity
  • Igor Bernardi – Legislation Steering
  • Kassie Hollabaugh – Travel Awards
  • Brigid Ogden – Graduate Student Well-Being
  • BJ Armstead – Graduate Student Senate Advisory
  • Leighton Chappell – Programming and Events
  • Davis Carter – Finance and Annual Fundraiser


  • Shiela Hawkins – Travel Awards
  • Kate Higgins – Legislation and Steering
  • Rachel Crosslin – Programming and Events
  • Sarah Kenney – Annual Fundraiser
  • Ashley Browning – Equity and Diversity
  • Chloe Sandoval – Graduate Student Well-Being
  • Olivia Ray – Finance
  • Grace Pakeltis – Social Media


  • Nicolas Sarafolean – Travel Awards
  • Amanda Lake Heath – Finance
  • Derek Boyd – Equity & Diversity
  • Chloe Sandoval – Well-being