Benedict, GSC Discuss Improvements
At a meeting of the Graduate Student Council on Wednesday evening, Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict and officers discussed housing and how to improve medical insurance coverage for grad students.
Benedict said that graduate student needs have changed drastically in the past five years. While graduate students were previously considered to be independent adults and had few social links to MIT, they have recently come to want a closer connection with the Institute.
“My sense is that graduate students at MIT feel isolated, feel that they have not been attended to by the administration, and that clearly excludes me, because I don’t consider myself an administrator,” Benedict said. “My primary goal is to work with students to improve the quality of student life.”
New dorm to have common space
The foremost issue that Benedict discussed was the new graduate dormitory on Sidney and Pacific streets, “which will open up two years from now and provide 750 beds to graduate students at below market rates.”
The GSC has played an important part in the planning and design of the new graduate dormitory, which will include a significant amount of common space for graduate students.
GSC President Soulaymane Kachani G believes that it is essential that the community space be open to all graduate students. He noted that the common space in graduate dormitories such as Ashdown has traditionally been reserved solely for the use of residents.
“We need to make sure that all graduate students will have access to the community space,” he said. Kachani hopes that the new dormitory will serve as a community center for graduate students.
MIT could provide insurance
Benedict also discussed the issue of medical insurance for graduate students. While most graduate students currently subscribe to MIT’s medical plan, this coverage costs them $700 per year.
The GSC has been trying to arrange for MIT to provide this coverage as a benefit to all graduate students. Because up to 30 percent of the Institute’s research grants could be used for medical coverage, this plan may cost MIT very little.
According to Kachani, the plan has already been approved by Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert and and is currently being considered by Provost Robert A. Brown. “We’re getting the people upstairs to push for medical coverage,” Benedict said.
GSC may add leadership training
The office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs is considering the development of a program for graduate students similar to the Leadershape program.
“The concept of leadership training at the graduate level is a very interesting one,” Benedict said. Kachani acknowledged that it is important for graduate students to receive leadership training while at MIT, as they will use these skills when they enter the work force. “Right now, most of our graduate students are going into industry,” rather than academics, he said.