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Graduate Student Assembly Update

September 15, 2014

The GSA looks forward to building on the accomplishments of the previous year as the new assembly’s session begins. During the 2013-2014 session, the GSA saw results from its efforts in the areas that follow.

Graduate Student Housing

At the urging of the GSA and GPSS, the university formed the Student Advisory Committee on Graduate and Professional Housing in the fall of 2013. Wendy Xiao (Yale School of Medicine) was the GSA representative on the committee which achieved approval from the Yale Corporation for the construction of a new G&P dormitory located on Elm Street, created a new housing website that enables students to rate off-campus housing and landlords, commenced a series of meetings with off-campus landlords to address common problems reported by graduate students, and held the first annual Yale Housing Fair for Graduate and Professional Students, sponsored by the GSA and the School of Medicine.

Improvements to Yale’s Teaching Fellow Program

The GSA worked with Deans Pollard and Miller to improve the Yale Teaching Fellow Program with the goal of expanding access to teaching opportunities for graduate students, especially in their non-teaching years. We have encouraged the university to simplify the process of matching students with teaching opportunities and create a system that is more transparent, more flexible, and easier to navigate. A new teaching opportunities website has been created to address some of the issues and will function at full capacity next fall.

Mental Health and Counseling

GSA found the availability of care and support for mental health issues to be a persistent concern for graduate students. It therefore partnered with GPSS to write a joint report on mental health, investigating Yale’s Mental Health & Counseling (MH&C) resources and advising how to best meet graduate and professional students’ needs. In response, the university made immediate plans to update the MH&C website to make information more accessible and to produce instructional videos on how to access Yale Health. The university also publicly committed to a dialog on the implementation of changes to make mental health care less stigmatized and more available for all.

University Representation

The GSA was pleased to place a graduate student, Brian Dunican (Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry), on the Advisory Committee for Deans Search to represent graduate student interests in the selection of three new deans for Yale College, the Graduate School, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. This is the first time a graduate student was included on a senior administration search committee and is the result of the GSA’s long working relationship with the university in more than a dozen standing committees.

The GSA also held a productive meeting with two members of the Yale Corporation to discuss the interests and needs of graduate students, based on surveys and discussions with constituents. The Corporation members then reported the GSA’s findings and comments to the entire board. The update to the Yale Corporation is an annual event.

City of New Haven Two-way Street Conversion

The GSA and the GPSS co-hosted a town hall meeting in response to the city’s plans to change one-way streets to two-way streets in downtown New Haven. The meeting sparked a spirited discussion from concerned graduate and professional school students and highlighted unique needs of the Yale community. The concerns voiced were compiled into a report delivered to the City of New Haven.

Library Access

The GSA voted to endorse a proposal to increase hours and accessibility for university libraries. Our recommendations were subsequently priced out by the Library administration and delivered to the office of the Provost and the Vice President for Student Life. We will continue to advocate for the inclusion of this extension in future budgets.

Gym Access

The GSA voted to endorse a proposal to increase hours and accessibility to the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Our recommendations were subsequently priced out by the gym’s administration and delivered to the office of the Provost and the Vice President for Student Life. We will continue to advocate for the inclusion of this extension in future budgets.

For more information on current and ongoing Graduate Student Assembly projects and to read GSA reports, visit our website.

Submitted by Joori Park (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology), GSA Chair

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