The Graduate Student Council's new officers have been elected and say they are looking to improve communication between the MIT senior administration and the GSC. President-elect Leeland B. Ekstrom G and Vice President-elect Johnna D. Powell G won uncontested elections on April 4 and will take office on May 2 at the GSC General Council meeting.
According to Ekstrom, one goal will be to earn the respect of the new dean for graduate students, and to cultivate a rapport similar to the one that exists between the GSC and the current Dean for Graduate Students Isaac M. Colbert, who will retire this June. Current GSC President Eric G. Weese G called Colbert "a tireless advocate" who "caused MIT to think more seriously about graduate student life."
Another goal will be to stay updated on the construction of NW35, Ekstrom said. NW35, the new graduate dormitory scheduled to open in Fall 2008, will house the residents of Ashdown, the oldest graduate dormitory on campus. Ashdown offers low-cost housing and a convenient location. Tension between Ashdown residents and MIT administrators ensued after MIT announced its revised plans for the new dormitory before the Cambridge Planning Board in February without much consultation with the graduate community.
The GSC will remain interested in the remainder of the construction of the new dormitory and will try its best to ensure that agreements between the GSC and MIT regarding the construction of NW35 will be followed, Ekstrom said.
Powell said that as vice president, her role will include being "the primary liaison" on the NW35 issue. She said she will strive to preserve the current Ashdown community in the new dormitory, working to keep housing costs low and requesting more feedback from Ashdown officers.
Other primary goals are focused on improving the representation of the graduate community. Ekstrom said that the new officers will work on attracting students to fill representative positions on Institute committees.
The GSC will also focus on funding travel grants and events such as the Grad Gala and the Delano Party. Ekstrom said that this year has been successful financially, a record which the GSC will strive to maintain. One funding priority will be the Medium Event Fund, which allocates money to events that are not large enough to qualify for the Large Event Fund. Eight allocations have been made using the Medium Event Fund. Events receiving funds include the MIT Open Ballroom Dancing Competition, the Earth Day Fair held by Students for Global Sustainability, and the Easter Celebration held by the Hellenic Students' Association.
Ekstrom also said that he will work on making the GSC more fun. Instead of only gathering at business meetings, Eckstrom said he would like members of the council to interact in more sociable settings to improve interpersonal relations.
Ekstrom was the co-chair of the GSC's Housing and Community Committee, which deals with graduate living and medical issues. He also served as President of Edgerton House and as the GSC's representative at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
As Vice President, Powell said she will work on improving relations between student groups and dormitory groups. Her experience includes serving as the President of the MIT chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, the national honor society for students in electrical engineering and computer science, President of the MIT chapter of Tau Beta Pi, National Engineering Honor Society, the orientation chair of the GSC, and an officer at Sidney-Pacific.
Powell said that her position as orientation chair of the GSC allowed her to gain insight on how the GSC functions. As orientation chair, she oversaw fall orientation and a budget of $100,000.
Other elects are Secretary Oaz Nir G and Treasurer Mireille K. Akilian G.