GSC Elects Brown, Gittins to President, VP PositionsBy Vipul Bhushan
The Graduate Student Council elected new officers at its April and May meetings. President Caryl B. Brown G, Vice President Christopher M. Gittins G, Secretary John F. Olson G, and Treasurer Brett D. Granger G will lead next year's council.
All the officers but Granger were elected unanimously by the council on April 15. A treasurer could not be elected at that time because no one had been nominated for the position. Granger was elected treasurer on May 11. He, Gittins, and Olson took office at that time. Brown will assume office today because he has been out of town. Outgoing President Anand Mehta G has continued in that position in Brown's absence.
GSC officers are elected to one-year terms by the council, which is made up of departmental, living group, and at-large representatives. Each department is represented by one member for every one hundred graduate students, with a minimum of two and a maximum of five representatives per department. Each living group selects one representative, and there are five positions held at-large.
The GSC also maintains several committees whose members are not necessarily council representatives and fills graduate student appointments to Institute committees.
New officers look ahead
Brown hopes to involve more people in student government next year. He also hopes the GSC will "continue to be a strong advocate for graduate students, not only for special interest groups."
An important role for the GSC is to "create a community" where students can work, said Gittins. "People are here to do research, [and they] should be able to do that without interference." He said this should be done through a code of conduct which reflects a "basic concern for others." He advocated "more open" policies and procedures and avoiding giving power to "pockets of people... who will scrap with others." He hoped to avoid the "unnecessarily adversarial" attitude which he said had plagued the GSC in previous years. Gittins wanted to be open to all concerns and invited students to bring their concerns to the GSC.
Mehta reflects on past year
Mehta expressed satisfaction with his term of office and cited effective work with the administration on issues such as campus safety as his foremost achievement. The council has also made a push toward greater exposure to its constituents by offering more activities and services to benefit graduate students, he said.
He also said that though graduate students are more departmentally focused than undergraduates, there were nevertheless issues common to all of them which the GSC could emphasize.
Graduate students are underserved by the administration in comparison to undergraduates, said Mehta, but the GSC has "made the administration realize that graduate students' needs need to be addressed." He recalled that the recently approved change to the Institute calendar was first proposed in the Committee on Undergraduate Policy and the GSC only found out about it through the Undergraduate Association. He quoted Robert J. Silbey, chairman of the Institute Calendar Committee, as saying "we didn't worry about graduate students... we didn't even think about them," when formulating the changes.
The "mark of Anand's tenure" has been laying the groundwork for the establishment of an effective student lobbying group, said Gittins, who is the outgoing secretary. He said the most pressing need was to get more students involved, and the council's success in doing this will be the way to judge next year's GSC leadership. He observed that only a small number of the Council's seats are filled and some departments are not even represented. Gittins also stressed the importance of maintaining graduate student representation on Institute committees.