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GRADUATE STUDENT COUNCIL

The Graduate Student Council General Council Meeting took place on Wednesday Nov. 6, 2002 at the GSC Office 50-220 from 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Presentation by the MIT libraries

Steve Gass, Associate Director for Public Services and Angie Locknar, Librarian, Materials Science, informed the Council about library services available to graduate students. MIT Libraries would like to improve communication with graduate students. They are interested in collaborating with graduate students and also initiating outreach programs.

MIT Libraries are willing to work with students to submit a proposal in the second round of Student Life fee funding from the GSO office. The current plan is to incorporate a module into the Grad School 101 and social events at individual libraries during the course of the year.

Articles are regularly run in the Graduate Student Newsletter (GSN) with details of the most up-to-date facilities available at MIT Libraries. The Institute Committee on Libraries deals with high-level programming and planning for the MIT Libraries. Gass proposed organizing an advisory group for the MIT Libraries user group with possibly graduate student representation from each of the schools.

Attend on Nov. 15 from 10 to 11 a.m. a presentation by Lydia Snover, Assistant to the Provost For Institutional Research, on graduate student inputs on MIT Libraries. The recent graduate student survey reveals information regarding students’ experiences with library services.

Venue for the presentation is Killian Hall at 10 a.m. E-mail the Libraries graduate student user group at for more information.

Institute budget

Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert presented the current status of the Institute Budget on behalf of Chancellor Phillip L. Clay. MIT's endowment is about $7 billion. In the last year, we have lost $1 billion in our endowment due to the downturn in the economy. There is a decrease in the operating budget of about $50 million. So there will be a slowdown on the spending without affecting the initiatives which have happened at the Institute level. The plan is to have a modest cut in the budget without affecting the operations. Student Life and Learning is singled out as an area which is not going to be affected. The budget cut will not remove programming or staffing for student life. However, this position will be re-evaluated next year based on future changes to the endowment.

This budget cut will not affect stipends. The Graduate Education Strategy Group is looking into stipend revision and also considering factors such as subsidizing health insurance or rents, or an isolated increase in stipends. The GSC Housing and Community Affairs (HCA) committee is conducting an analysis of the cost of living survey held recently for MIT graduate students.

President’s Award

The President’s Award was presented to Yue Chen, the Career Fair director from the Graduate Student Council. Career Fair 2002 brought in $50K in revenue for the GSC and her role was definitely instrumental in this success. The GSC President said that Career Fair 2002 has been the best in terms of overall organization when compared to the past few years.

Rent revision

45% response was recorded for the survey. 14 different rent schedules have been used to get input from students. Housing and Community Affairs Committee (HCA) is not setting the rents, but only submitting a proposal to the Dean for Student Life based on responses received through the survey.

HCA Co-Chair Barun Singh said that HCA is not trying to increase the revenue for the housing system, but this revision is mainly to create an equanimity in the rent structure across the entire graduate residence system.

On-campus students are encouraged to contact their respective house governments to know more about the rent structure. E-mail dorm executive committee chairs or to get involved.

Off-campus units:

MIT-owned off-campus units are having their rents increased more than in earlier years. An appraisal firm which decides the rents, Codman has a share in the revenue. The GSC is advocating for a third-party appraisal of the rents for the MIT owned off-campus housing units. These units will be moved to the Academic plant instead of the Investment Portfolio of the university to keep the rents under a check.

One of the proposals funded by the GSO is to promote events and programming for off-campus residents. We seek volunteers for working on these efforts. Currently, Megan L. Hepler is initiating these efforts and she can be reached via .

The Funding board of GSC is also reacting favorably to proposals submitted for events targeted at off-campus residents.

Family Housing Sub-committee

The family housing sub-committee has also been formed and it is looking at trying to convert some of the on-campus single housing units to married student units. The legal issues are being worked on. Day care facilities are also being looked for. Community space for graduate student families is also an issue.

Maternity Leave Policy:

The Dean for Graduate Students, Ike Colbert, is currently writing up the proposal for this issue this week, for submission to the higher administration.

Open floor

The following points were raised by representatives during the open floor.

Housing needs for married students should be promoted at the Institute level. Would it be possible to question if future buildings at MIT could be expensive and innovative? Is MIT's construction policy taxing graduate students by effecting initiatives for off-campus housing?

To these questions, Dean Colbert replied that MIT is looking into the operating budgets for buildings before starting on new projects. All inputs to housing concerns should be conveyed to the Housing Strategy Group. GSC Representatives are meeting over the month with Graduate Administrators from individual departments to discuss issues that most concern graduate students in the department.

Cost of living survey details can be presented to the departments by Representatives.

Legislative issues

Matt Traum, GSC representative to Association of Student Activities, presented some of the amendments of the ASA constitution for review and approval by the GSC.

Traum and Alvar Saenz Otero (GSC Treasurer) gave details of the penalty procedure, the appeals procedure and the Judicial board for aggrieved student groups. The motion has been tabled for the next General Council Meeting. E-mail gsc-asa-chair@mit.edu for any questions or comments.

The GSC President proposed details of the reallocation of the budget within some of the GSC standing Committees for approval of the Council. These changes will be up for vote in the next General Council Meeting.

If a student is unavailable to submit the paperwork, then there could be a possible arrangement to accommodate such requests, as in, when students go to a conference and then decide to stay over the summer before returning. One of the points made was the necessity at all of the stipulation that travel grant allocations have to be submitted before the fiscal year ends.

Another point raised was to channel the funds supporting Travel Grants to alternative promising initiatives. These issues will be brought up at the GSC Academics, Research and Careers (ARC) committee. For details please get in touch with one of the ARC chairs at gsc-arc-chair@mit.edu.