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GSC changes bylaws, elects new chair at final meeting of year

Executive board members to receive pay, funding made available to grad student groups

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Wednesday’s meeting took place in the newly renovated Graduate Student Lounge, located underneath Grad Center. The lounge has been outfitted with new flooring, cabinets, countertops and appliances.

Sitting in the newly renovated Graduate Student Lounge, the Graduate Student Council elected a new chair of nominations, approved two revisions to its bylaws and shared updates on Executive Board initiatives in its final meeting of the semester.

Meaghan Carley GS ran unopposed for chair of nominations, the GSC position responsible for placing graduate students on University committees, among other tasks. The position had not been filled during the general executive board elections last month due to a lack of interest in the job. New leadership will take charge of GSC in 2020.

The GSC has historically struggled to excite general body members to run for executive board positions, said GSC President Alastair Tulloch GS. The first proposed change to the GSC’s bylaws would address this issue by paying each executive board member $250 a semester. Some peer universities, such as Harvard and Columbia, already compensate the members of their graduate student governance executive boards, Tulloch noted. As Tulloch did not run for reelection at the GSC’s last meeting after two years as president, he will not benefit from the change.

Several students expressed verbal support for compensating executive board members for their labor before the general body voted in favor of the revision.

The second alteration, introduced by GSC Treasurer and President-Elect Kathryn Thompson GS, would allow graduate student groups recognized by GSC to request up to $500 in baseline discretionary funding. Before this change, there had been no baseline funding allotted for graduate student groups. “Some students groups really have to fight for their funds,” Thompson said. “So GSC really wanted to create a stable source of funding for graduate student groups.”

The department representatives in attendance voted in favor of this revision.

During the meeting, the executive board members also discussed takeaways from this fall’s Ivy+ Summit, a meeting of graduate student governance officials from the Ivy League schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago.

Tulloch said that the University leads all other schools in terms of the efficacy of its graduate student governance, but he stressed that it is now the only institution at the summit without a center dedicated to graduate students. Such a space would be “so beneficial to community building, to event planning, to everything,” he said, adding that it is a top priority for the GSC.

The outgoing Chair of Nominations Rebecca Thorsness GS also discussed other schools’ use of departmental representatives for campus support services, such as Title IX liaisons for departments in the Graduate School. Since support services tend to lack graduate student representation, Thorsness said, they can be well-managed but still not “know the types of Title IX concerns that happen in labs versus in humanities departments versus in classrooms.” The types of issues graduate students face are different from those of undergraduates, Thorsness said: “We don’t need frat party bystander intervention training, we need workplace harassment bystander intervention training.”

This year’s Ivy+ Summit is not the first to have shaped the direction of GSC. On Wednesday, the executive board said they plan to have a draft of a document that will outline the GSC’s long-term goals, to be known as the Graduate Student Strategic Initiative, ready for review at the GSC’s next meeting in February. The GSSI is based on a program used by Cornell’s graduate student governance that the GSC’s leadership learned about at 2017’s Ivy+ Summit.

Thompson, in her announcement, explained the recent renovations to the Graduate Student Lounge, a meeting space for the GSC located underneath Graduate Center. The lounge, one of the few graduate student spaces on campus, has been outfitted with new flooring, cabinets, countertops and appliances. The GSC is planning on purchasing doormats, a kickstand for the door and a grill after their last one disappeared, Thompson said.

The meeting closed with a raucous round of applause for the six executive board members who have stepped down from their positions: Tulloch, Thorsness, Social Chair J.J. Lomax GS, Chair of Student Life Shekinah Fashaw GS, Chair of Communications Kaitlin Wilcoxen GS and Chair of International Advocacy Sophie Brunau-Zaragoza GS.

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