- Opened nominations for the Graduate Education Study Group (see a slide from April general body meeting for schematic)
- Responded to student questions about unionization
- Began drafting the new and improved Student Handbook!
- Ombuds Proposal submitted
- Submitted endowment proposals! Go students!
- Graduate Diversity and Inclusion committee submitted a proposal to expand funding for our successful VU-EDGE Program.
- Graduate Diversity and Inclusion committee identified five priorities for graduate education and diversity at VU: Scale up successful bridge programs, Ensure that stipends reflect cost of living, Expand VU-EDGE, Best practices using GRE scores, Mental health awareness at orientation
- Positivity Campaign (See this link for a free motivational-quotes kit! Makes a great gift for a friend!)
- Established collaboration with Center for Student Wellbeing to improve grad student happiness
- GSC teamed up with Peabody to share student concerns regarding Mental Health and Wellness with the Chancellors Committee on Mental Health and Wellness. We used data from our 2016 Graduate Student Perspectives Survey.
- GSC passed Student Resolutions: The Graduate Student Council supports all students, regardless of their demographics. We strive to build an open graduate student community where all students feel at home. It is our goal to promote positivity and appreciation among all students at Vanderbilt.
- Shared analyzed survey data from the 2016 Graduate Student Perspectives Survey regarding the UCC with the UCC. This data had a positive reception and the UCC was happy for the feedback. This conversation has continued with the Chancellor’s Committee for Mental Health and Wellness.
- Spurred new policy on minimum stipends in the School of Engineering that took immediate effect. This was achieved by bringing data to Dean Jansen and opening lines of communication between students and the administration.
- GSC begins soliciting Endowment Proposals and working on Ombuds Proposal
- Grad Students placed on the following committees: Student Health Insurance Focus Group, UCC outside review group, Graduate Student Housing, Traffic and Parking Committee, Sexual Assault Task Force, Student Wellness Committee, International Student Focus Group, Diversity Inclusion and Community Committee
- GSC helps students organize petition to reduce parking rates. The petition gave Dean Wallace the leverage he needed to successfully advocate for reduced change.
- Shared student concerns regarding Student Health with the Dean of Students Office. This resulted in the latter formation of this Student Health FAQ document.
- Shared student concerns regarding Student Health Insurance with the Dean of Students Office. These concerns were latter followed up with the Student Health Insurance Task Force and resulted in positive changes for graduate students. See Student Health Insurance page.
- GSC recommended and designed a resource booklet to distribute to new students at orientation in collaboration with the Graduate School.
- Administered the 2016 Graduate Student Perspectives Survey. This survey is the most comprehensive graduate student survey attempted at Vanderbilt (to our knowledge) and has the potential to create lasting change. We got a 20% response rate! Go graduate students! 20 lucky participants received $100 Amazon gift cards.
- The Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Committee successfully advocated for a Graduate Student Diversity Town Hall and ensured the graduate student voice was heard in campus discussions.
- GSC posts additional resources for tax information.Check out this link and click on the last section on the Q&A page: http://www.phdstipends.com/faq . Articles cover a variety of topics including different tax forms, types of income, and Roth IRAs.
- Students advocate for the creation of the Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Committee. GSC supports this initiative and provides infrastructure for the committee.
- Advocated for the retention of graduate student workspace in Buttrick Hall. GSC formed an Investigative Reportwith data that outlined the necessary conditions for graduate students. Students also drafted a proposal that suggested efficient carrel distribution guidelines. Students successfully advocated for many changes. The College of Arts and Sciences adopted almost all of our recommendations (except that the size of desks are smaller than we advocated for) and provided additional opportunities for student feedback prior to making the final change. Here is the memo that went out: MEMO.
- GSC creates Student Life Liaison position to be a Graduate Student Advocate!! The position has been growing ever since!
Accomplishments of our allies
- College of Arts and Sciences held Info and Listening Sessions to collect input from students regarding future improvements and share information about current enhancements to policy. See slide from April General Body Meeting for brief notes.
- Dean Wallace announces that BRET ASPIRE Program has buy-in from very high levels of administration. While they don’t have specifics the are investigating multiple solutions for long term funding support.
- Dean Wallace creates Graduate Education Study Group, which will consist of students and faculty. This group will continue efforts outlined in A New Vision of Graduate Education, a report drafted by the Graduate Education Study Group.
- Chancellor’s Mental Health and Wellness Committee hosts a series of town hall meetings to gather feedback from students on Mental Health and Wellness and Campus Culture. GSC attended to present data gathered from our 2016 Graduate Student Perspectives Survey. The information collected during these events will shape future policy and efforts to enrich campus culture.
- Dean Wallace, the VU Parking Office, and the Vice Provost of Administration were able to build an infrastructure that allows students to buy monthly parking passes. This is something that students directly asked and advocated for!
- Administration announces intentions to build Graduate Student Housing. This is something that students directly asked and advocated for!
- The February Vanderbilt Board of Trust meeting was all about Graduate Students. This is pretty cool because the Board of Trust sits at the top of the University Organizational Chart. The fact that the entire Board of Trust meeting was devoted to graduate students shows the increasing level of top-down buy in for graduate education.
- The Vanderbilt Faculty Senate passed the following student-facing Faculty Senate Resolution Affirming Guiding Principles on December 8th.
- Dean Wallace continues interdisciplinary Thinking Fast and Slow Discussions to promote creative thinking and community within the Graduate School
- Work/Life Balance Newsletters begin going out. Not only do these contain fun information for students, but they are a message from the Graduate School encouraging students to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This shows high top-down support for students!
- Graduate School announces they are looking into the creating of a Life Coach office, or something similar, to support students.
- The Graduate School begins distributing the Graduate School Newsletter which aims to increase communication, transparency, and community.
- Chancellor Zeppos announces a $300,000,000 Endowment for Graduate Education and Research!!!! Woot!!!! This is amazing! Through GSC, Dean Wallace extended the opportunity for graduate students to submit proposals for the use of these funds.
- College of Arts and Sciences raises stipends across the school so they are more competitive.
- VU Student Health Insurance Task Force begins meeting regularly to generate an updated plan for the 2017-2018 school year.
- With support from students, Dean Wallace successfully advocates for a reduction in parking permit rates!
- School of Engineering raises minimum stipend.
- Dean Wallace advocates for swift reversal of a change to VU’s AirBnB policy that would otherwise have limited students travel opportunities.
- Dean Wallace appointed as Dean of the Graduate School!
- “A New Vision for Graduate Education at Vanderbilt” report was released by the Graduate Education Study Group. Read about it here.
- Office of the Provost subsidizes health insurance premiums for students with families because of sudden increases in premiums as a result of federal interpretation of the Affordable Care Act.
- Graduate Education Study Group hosts multiple Graduate Education Forums. The purpose of these forums is to collect input from graduate students regarding the direction and content of the Graduate Education Study Group’s findings. These events were well attended by graduate students and gave graduate students an opportunity to shape the group’s final report.
- VU Academic Strategic Plan moves into it’s Action Phase.
- Provost Wente appoints a Graduate Education Study Group to plan enhancements for VU graduate education.