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 Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) began the 2013-2014 academic year with significant strides in graduate student health and housing advocacy. Three collaborations between GSA and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) came to fruition this fall: dental insurance coverage was expanded to include the partial cost of fillings for participating students; an Advisory Committee on Graduate and Professional Student Housing was created in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life; and the joint GSA & GPSS Committee on Mental Health released its findings and recommendations on the state of campus mental health services.
In 2012-2013, on the basis of findings from its school-wide survey and meetings held by GSA representatives at the department level, GSA found the availability of care and support for mental health issues to be of persistent concern for graduate students. It therefore partnered with GPSS to form a joint Committee on Mental Health to investigate the resources of Yale’s Mental Health and Counseling Department and advise how best to meet graduate and professional students’ needs. The Committee’s in-depth review of mental health services compared Yale’s offerings to those of peer institutions and solicited extensive student input. In addition to finding a wide array of successful health and counseling resources available at Yale, the committee elaborated a core set of themes for improvement, which it then presented to the Member Advisory Committee of Yale Health and relevant university administrators. Ongoing GSA and GPSS advocacy for mental health and counseling will focus on these five themes:
The Advisory Committee on Graduate and Professional Student Housing, newly created by Secretary and VP for Student Life Kim Goff-Crews, is part of a comprehensive review of graduate and professional student housing by the university, in response to a joint petition issued by GSA and GPSS. The Advisory Committee will review student housing on and off campus and consider programs, services, transportation, renovation, and construction options to best meet current and future student needs. The GSA and graduate students look forward to the continuing discussion with the university about housing needs in New Haven.
In addition to these efforts, GSA will continue working to improve the Yale Graduate School experience on multiple fronts, including initiatives to extend gym and library hours, improve sixth-year teaching options and career services, find access to 24-hour workspace for all graduate students, and advocate for a central Yale Student Center. GSA will also continue to offer its popular Conference Travel Fellowship, the Common Grounds program, and ‘Ask-a-Lawyer’ free legal advice seminars. To learn about any of the initiatives described here and find out how you can become involved, visit the GSA’s website at GSA.yale.edu or email GSA@yale.edu.