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Proposals For Promoting Grad Student Life Picked

By Nick Bushak

The MIT Graduate Students Office has awarded about $70,000 in Student Life Grants to 16 out of 25 student life proposals submitted this year. Projects, which received grants between $500 and $14,000, range from the “Weekend Brunch Series” to “BabyBeacon,” a Web-based searchable database for parents interested in informal babysitting exchanges.

While most of the funding comes from the Student Life Fee, a $200 fee which applies to all undergraduates and graduate students, this year, some of the money also comes out of the new Graduate Student Life Fund, established last year.

Other notable projects funded by this year’s Graduate Student Life Grants include “Muddy Mondays: Building Cross Cultural Graduate Community at MIT,” a proposal for a regular event series to allow student cultural groups to turn the Muddy Charles Pub into their home countries for a night. For another program, “College Applications Made Easy,” MIT graduate students mentor Cambridge high school students through the college application process.

A proposed five-day seminar over IAP, “Science Policy Bootcamp,” introduces graduate students to the basics of science policy through a series of lectures by William B. Bonvillian, director of the MIT Washington Office, MIT’s lobbyist presence on Capitol Hill.

Proposals are generally funded for one to two years. However, outstanding ones that “become a part of graduate student life” are usually budgeted out separately at the beginning of the year, said Barrie Gleason, chair of the Graduate Student Life Grant Selection Panel.

The new Graduate Student Life Fund was created to promote graduate student community through donations solicited from alumni, according to the GSO Web site. Although the fund has not received notably large donations, Gleason said the GSO was impressed by the number of alumni making small donations.

The main criterion for selecting Student Life Projects, Gleason said, is “whether or not the idea enhances the graduate student community.” Student Life Grant proposals are selected by a panel of five MIT graduate students and five MIT staff members.

Graduate Student Life Grants were created by Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert in 2002, when $200,000 was allotted to the GSO to promote Graduate Student Life.