Spring 2007 Welcome Back Letter

Dear Fellow Graduate Students, 

On behalf of the Graduate Student Association Executive Committee (GSAEC), Happy New Year! Welcome back from winter break and best wishes for a sensational spring semester. Welcome to the second 2006-2007 installment of the GSA President’s letter. Although it might not be as funny as announcements for TGIF and you won’t get any money or dates for reading this, we wanted to let you know what your GSAEC has been doing on your behalf (and hope you want to know that we do more than buy alcohol for TGIFs with your activities fees). 

  • It's alive!
    • The GSA Senate met three times, amended and approved the GSA budget, and sent representatives to university-wide committees.
    • Do you know who your Senators are? Do you have ideas for the Senate? Look for an announcement coming soon.
    • We have openings for GSAS Senators and need more representatives for university committees. Contact GSA VP Nikhil Bapna (bapna@brandeis.edu), Senate Chair Ijezie Nwokomah (ijezien@brandeis.edu), or Senate Committee Coordinator Eric Allard (esa@brandeis.edu) – now’s your chance to get involved.
  • We do more than party – building the Grad Academic Community
    • The 2006 edition of the Brandeis’ Graduate Student Online Journal was launched – check it out at http://www.brandeis.edu/gsa/gradjournal/2006/.
    • The call for papers for the 2007 Symposium and Journal ended on December 31, 2006.
    • The Journal and Symposium Coordinator, Maniola Sejrani and I are currently working with Provost Marty Krauss to plan an interesting and interdisciplinary Grad Student Symposium. Maniola is working with a dedicated group of Graduate Senators to bring you a great program (contact her at maniola@brandeis.edu for more info).
    • It will be held in April - keep you eye out for announcements of the date, time, and program, and plan to attend!

  • Get your piece of the pie
    • The first ever Graduate Student Travel and Research Grants (TRG) were awarded to Marianne McPherson of Heller and Jillian Dickert of GSAS. Congratulations!
    • Contact the TRG guru, Dimitar Pachov (dpachov@brandeis.edu) if you want further information.
    • Keep your eye out for the announcement of the spring TRG competition – we have more money to give to worthy grads!

  • There’s money, honey – several grad student clubs and organizations received charter status and funding
    • They were Net Impact, the Entrepreneurship Club, the Brandeis Consulting Club, the Turkish/Armenian dialogue group, and the English Department’s annual conference.
    • See http://www.brandeis.edu/gsa/activities/clubs.html for a list of GSA chartered clubs and information on requesting charter status and funding, or contact Nikhil for more information.
    • We’ve changed our funding request policy in an effort to reach more Grads and increase equity. There will now be one deadline each semester for funding requests. This semester it is January 31, 2007, so get your clubs and your requests together soon!
  • The GSA web site has never been better!
    • Alex Williamson, our Web and Communications wizard has made several improvements, and plans to make more.
    • Send your ideas to him @ alexwill@brandeis.edu.

  • Ok, so we do party - the GSA-sponsored social scene was alive and kickin’
    • Almost weekly TGIF merriment (even if you only read the announcements) spread to different locations around campus.
    • Cool events for cool cats who can’t make TGIF – kayaking, the Blue Man Group, and The Physician of His Honor.
    • We rung in the holidays, and the new Schneider building at the Heller School, with the festive and frolicking end of semester party, complete with the first annual GSA Holiday Clothing Drive.
    • Your tireless, and therapeutic, Social Coordinators Amanda Hemmesch and Eileen Kranz are always open to your ideas (ahr@brandeis.eduekranz@brandeis.edu).
    • Get ready for more fun this semester with the Ski Trip (end of Feb break), TGIFs, and other sophisticated sorties and tantalizing temptations.
  • It’s not all glamour
    • I am working hard with the Senior Brandeis Administration to make your graduate student experience better. I met several times individually and in small or large groups with Brandeis Admin. They have pledged their commitment to improving the infrastructure for grads (housing, insurance, transportation, health and mental health services, etc).
    • Thanks to your Board of Trustees rep Elisabeth (Bea) Moolenaar, Grad Student Services Coordinator Jessica Basile, and the three Senators who are representatives on COGSI, the Committee on Graduate Student Issues (Karen Tyo – Heller; Segun Babaniyi – GSAS; Ijezie Nwokomah – IBS), who attended these meetings.
    • Look for a poll coming soon – I want to know what your concerns and ideas are! (Feel free to e-mail them now totaletha@brandeis.edu).

  • Behind the scenes, our tenacious treasurer Iskender Dildaev made sure we stayed in the black and kept it real.

In addition to continuing work on the above, our major initiatives for Spring 2007 are: 

  • Adequate infrastructure for grad students – housing, health insurance, transportation, physical and mental health services, __________ (you tell us).
  • Strengthening and expanding the Senate.
  • Office hours so you can meet with GSAEC members (which we also held last semester).
  • Elections for next year’s GSAEC.
  • Space, the final frontier
    • Ever tried to run an organization without an office? Ever tried to host a party without a home? Well, we’ve done that this year without dedicated space for GSA and for grads.
    • This is one of our top priorities, in addition to housing and other crucial grad student infrastructure needs.
    • We tried our best to provide some printing capacity and space with the grad lounge in Shapiro, but as many of you know, it’s been hard. Thanks for your patience.
    • We need your help – put some pressure on the Admin.

As always, thanks for your attention. Please feel free to contact me or any of the other GSAEC officers with your issues and ideas. Here’s an idea – come see us at office hours. Maybe we’ll have an office! Here’s to a movin’ and grooving,’ oh, and productive and educational, spring semester. 

Taletha Derrington
2006-2007 GSA President