Graduate council votes in presidentBy Harold A. Stern
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) elected Janine M. Nell president for its 1985-86 academic year Thursday. Nell, who ran unopposed, replaces Rene J. LeClaire, Jr.
One of Nell's priorities as GSC president will be to lobby the administration to approve the Rights and Responsibilities for Graduate Students, a document prepared by last year's GSC.
LeClaire referred to this "bill of rights for graduate students" as one of the "major accomplishments" of his term of office. It attempts "to clarify and codify existing practices and procedures that affect graduate student life," according to a statement he released.
"Conditions are very different from department to department," LeClaire said. He attributed the variations to the "decentralized" nature of the graduate programs at MIT. Nell agreed with LeClaire. She said, "Basically, some professors treat students in a professional manner, and some do not."
One of the proposals in the document would require advisors to meet with their graduate students at least once a term to "evaluate their students," Nell said. There is currently no requirement that advisors meet with their students.
Nell cited another of the GSC's proposals which addresses the notification of graduate students about whether or not their funding would be extended at the end of a term. No formal notification is required now. She claimed that students "have been terminated while unawares," after it was too late to seek alternative funding.
The administration has not yet approved the document. LeClaire said that the GSC plans to present it to the Committee on Graduate Student Policies, chaired by the Dean of Graduate Schools Frank E. Perkins '55, and then to take it to the faculty in order to "make it an official document."
Another major problem facing graduate students at MIT, according to Nell, is the lack of sufficient living space to house all graduate students who desire to live on campus. This "will continue to be a priority" for the GSC, she said.
Other issues that Nell plans on acting on as president of the GSC include federal student financial aid reductions. "I [would] like to put some pressure on the [Reagan] administration for cutting financial aid." She admitted this would be "a little tougher; we would have to get other schools involved."
The GSC also elected Alex Savich, vice-president; Kalyanaram Gurumurthy, general treasurer; Steve Semkin, Muddy Charles Pub treasurer; and Bernie Palowitch, secretary.
In other business, the GSC approved a budget of $40,000 for next year. This represents an increase of $15,000 over the previous year, according to LeClaire's statement.
Nell admitted that there are sections of the document which are "ideals, [and] abstract things [which are] much harder to administrate." She offered, however, several examples of its proposals.
Anne St. Onge, outgoing treasurer for the GSC, said there have been cases where students elected to GSC positions have been forced to keep their offices a secret because their advisors did not approve of their holding an office. "Many advisors are concerned with the work in a lab only. It is a very small minority, but it has come up."
"A very low percentage of graduate students live on campus," Nell continued. The number of rooms available is "much less than demand," and there is a long waiting list for available space.
The problem exists for married as well as single living quarters, she added.
In a 1980 survey of graduate students, 50 percent of those surveyed indicated a desire to live on-campus, Nell said. At that time, however, there was only enough space to house 30 percent of the graduate population, she added.
The primary reason for this is a lack of available funds to construct new buildings, Nell said. "We have to find money, but where will it come from?"
The MIT administration has established a fund for this purpose, but according to Nell, the fund is "growing very slow rate," and it will be a very long time before a housing project might be started.
Anne St. Onge, treasurer of the GSC, attributed the increase to the need for funds for the *mode 5*Graduate Student News and an activities commission, which supported outside graduate-student activities as well as those sponsored by the GSC. "We have demonstrated [to the Dean's Office] an obvious ned for it."