Graduate School News and Events
Graduate School Assembly Update
The Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) continues its work to improve the graduate school experience for Yale students living and working in New Haven. After last spring’s elections, the Assembly grew to 88 members for the 2013-2014 academic year.
The elections brought new leadership to the GSA along with new departmental representatives. The standing committees, which focus on major areas of concern to graduate students, are continuing their work with new chairpersons. Caitlin Verboon (History) leads the Academics and Professional Development committee, while Michelle Kriner (Microbiology) has taken the reigns of Facilities and Healthcare; Transit and Security is chaired by Sachi Inukai (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology). The Conference Travel Fellowship is now administered by Brian Vlastakis (Physics). The new secretary for the assembly is Paul Baranay (Computational Biology) while Joori Park (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology) and Faustin Carter (Physics) continue their roles as treasurer and vice chairperson respectively. Brian Dunican (Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry) serves as the new GSA chairperson. All of the recently elected representatives and leaders are excited to continue the work of the GSA to improve the graduate school experience.
Some notable examples of GSA projects from last year include improving bicycle safety on campus, locating study space for students who don’t have offices, arranging for extended hours at Payne Whitney Gymnasium and Sterling Memorial Library, expanding the Common Grounds coffee voucher program, and instituting a regular Ask-a-Lawyer program with the New Haven Bar Association.
In addition to maintaining existing programs and continuing to cultivate a close working relationship with the Yale administration, the 2013-2014 GSA plans to work to establish dependable financial aid for sixth-year students, increase teaching opportunities, enhance housing options in and around campus, improve access to mental health services, further strengthen career services, and continue to advocate for a University-wide student center.
Funding and Teaching. To alleviate the financial anxieties of upper-year PhD students, the GSA has been in conversation with the administration to guarantee sixth year funding. Additionally, the GSA continues to advocate for expanded teaching opportunities in the upper years to help students be more competitive on the job market.
Housing. As housing remains a top concern for graduate students, the GSA will advocate for the expansion of graduate housing and the creation of a university-wide housing committee. As a part of this effort, the GSA is exploring options for transit from campus to the Westville neighborhood, to alleviate the housing crunch in downtown New Haven and East Rock.
Healthcare. In response to concerns about access to the Yale Health Plan’s Mental Health and Counseling Department, the GSA and GPSS have collaborated to create a joint ad hoc committee to address issues and to develop solutions regarding mental health services. The joint committee presented research and recommendations regarding graduate student participation in Yale’s mental health programs. We have also begun partnering with Student Wellness to investigate potential methods of improving health on campus. The assembly continues to also push for further expansion of hours of operation for both the gym and library to provide students with greater access to these essential resources of physical and mental health.
Career Services. The GSA continues to advocate for the expansion of the career service resources available to graduate students. In particular the GSA has sought to expand the staff and electronic resources available at the existing Office of Career Services to a level commensurate with the other schools at Yale and our peer institutions. The GSA also continues to promote the future careers of graduate students both within and outside academia through our collaborations with the graduate departments and the Graduate Student Alumni Association.
Student Center. In collaboration with the Graduate and Professional School Senate and Yale College Council, an ad hoc committee has been created to address the possibilities of a student center at Yale. The three student governments discovered a common desire for a facility that includes meeting rooms, multi-purpose space, dining, and a centralized office of student affairs and student group offices, uniting the entire Yale student body.
If you would like to learn more about any of initiatives described here or if you would like to become involved in GSA, please visit our website.
— Submitted by Brian Dunican (MB&B), GSA Chairperson