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GSC discusses unions, international student needs

Monthly meeting focused on SUGSE, student-driven programming

At yesterday’s monthly meeting, the Graduate Student Council discussed various GSC initiatives, and members of the Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees bargaining committee shared updates on current union efforts.

Since last year, SUGSE members have been bargaining for a contract for graduate student employees, including clear job descriptions and better compensation, among other demands, The Herald previously reported. General body members had the opportunity to ask SUGSE representatives questions about ongoing efforts, which led to a tense discussion.

At past GSC meetings, the Executive Board proposed plans to create tax workshops for graduate students, The Herald previously reported. Some general body members said that previous workshops had limited capacity, resulting in several students being turned away. GSC President Kathryn Thompson GS said the GSC planned to increase space at future events. Other workshops to be held in the future to fit the needs of students in various departments were also discussed. One program, a master’s-specific career development workshop, aims to help master’s students through a student-run initiative, said Sophie Don GS, GSC chair of master’s advocacy.

The GSC also said that it is planning information sessions  for recognized graduate student groups. These aim to help current student organizations better understand funding and collaboration with the Student Activities Office, among other entities, Thompson said.

Additionally, the GSC discussed the needs of international graduate students and the programs designed to meet them. Beenish Pervaiz GS, GSC chair of international advocacy, said that new programming will focus on “easing the burden of financial restraints on international students, specifically.” There will now be set days designated for international students to meet with a tax consultant, and future plans include web videos to help international students with their taxes and a graduate student representative in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, Pervaiz said.

The GSC is also continuing its focus on graduate student mental health, The Herald previously reported . To further advocate for graduate student mental health, members of the GSC Executive Board said they passed out mental health care bags to graduate students in the graduate student space in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, including informative pamphlets about mental health and programming on campus as well as self-care items like coloring books. Upcoming programming includes a Mental Health Week featuring specific events for students of color and LGBTQ+ students, as well as a graduate student Paint ‘N Sip, said Shingai Kagunda, GSC chair of student life. This programming aims to “create safe spaces for grad students and show that (the GSC is) very deliberate about mental health.”

A previous pilot initiative partially funded by the GSC allowed all graduate and medical students free access to fitness classes at the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center this academic year, The Herald previously reported. Statistics from the program’s first semester showed significant increase in participation in the classes by graduate students as compared to before its launch. GSC leadership hopes that further increased use of the classes will show the importance of free access and will help make it standard and recurring after this semester, said a student at the meeting.


Jack Walker

Jack Walker served as senior editor of multimedia, social media and post- magazine for The Herald’s 132nd Editorial Board. Jack is an archaeology and literary arts concentrator from Thurmont, Maryland who previously covered the Grad School and staff and student labor beats.

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