Hello, and happy new year to everyone at GSAS! As the spring semester kicks off and we all embark on exciting new projects, I would like to share with you my experiences on the Graduate Student Assembly and urge you to consider becoming a representative for your department. As I've discovered, you really can make a difference at the Graduate School!
You may know that the GSA was created back in 1997 to give graduate students a more audible voice in administrative and student life policy. We have come a long way since then, growing significantly in both size and budget, and have managed to effect real change in the Graduate School by liaising between the students and the administration and participating in every discussion concerning student policy.
Working with the GSA has taught me a great deal about the governing processes at Yale; I believe it is extremely important to understand how these work if we want to have any influence over them. Officials from the administrative offices at the Graduate School often come as guest speakers to our General Assembly Meetings in order to get to know the GSA representatives and engage in productive conversations with us. Last semester, for example, we met collectively with Dean Schirmeister to consider ways in which we can raise awareness at the Graduate School of the issue of sexual misconduct and provide students with support and relevant resources.
Being part of the GSA, therefore, gives you the chance to communicate your opinions and concerns about university policy directly to the administration. On top of the conversations that take place at the General Assembly Meetings, the Steering Committee meets with Dean Pollard and Dean Harper-Mangels every other week to review issues that have been raised by fellow GSA representatives. In recent meetings, we have been discussing graduate students' responses to Dean Pollard's report on “Improving Graduate Education at Yale University” and are in the process of organizing a series of lunch sessions for graduate students to meet with the Dean to ask further questions and share their opinions with him in person.
The role of departmental representative also makes you better informed about what is going on with your fellow graduate students; departmental meetings provide an invaluable opportunity for discussion of all aspects of graduate school life. Any issues brought up during these meetings are reported back to the administration, and strategies are developed by the relevant GSA internal committees to address them.
Last but certainly not least, involvement with the GSA allows you to get to know students outside of your academic field and forge new friendships. And don't forget, we provide free dinners and beer!
Please visit our website to find out more.
— Ksenia Sidorenko, GSA Chair, Publicity