October 19, 2004
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Allison Marciszyn (BSC)
Justin Douglas (CMY)
Violeta Marin (CMY)
Gerard Brunick (MSC)
Abhijit Brahme (PHY)
Several members have graduated or will be graduating soon and have left GSAC. We are currently looking for:
If you know anyone who would be interested, please encourage them to join!
- One new member from Biology
- One new member from Math
- Two new members from Physics
- Two new members from Chemistry
2. Happy Hour
The next Happy Hour is scheduled for Friday, November 5, from 5:00 - 8:00 pm in the Singleton Room. Justin volunteered to get the beer and order pizza. Since he
will be leaving GSAC soon, Gerard offered to help out so he will be able to take over this function when Justin leaves. Curtis Meyer from Physics has agreed to serve
as the Social Host.
Justin will create a poster/flyer to advertise the event and we will post these around campus. We will also email the students to announce it.
3. Meeting with the Dean
Toward the end of last semester, GSAC decided to schedule another meeting with the Dean to discuss issues of concern. The following issues were
brought up as possible topics for the meeting:
There may be some overlap with GSA on these issues. GSAC members should talk to the GSA representative from their department to see if GSA is
already working on some of these issues.
- Health Insurance
Although it may not be within his power to make changes to policies
governing graduate student health insurance, the group thought it
was important to raise this issue. The Department of Biological Sciences
adds the cost of health insurance to their students' stipends. The
additional money covers the cost of the cheapest plan, so if students
choose to add a more expensive plan, they have to make up the difference
in cost. Apparently, opting out by providing proof of other health
insurance is not always an option due to specific requirements such
as coverage for mental health.
- Security in Mellon Institute
This is an ongoing issue that was discussed at our last meeting with
the Dean. Although there have been improvements, outstanding issues
Gregg will contact Sharon McCarl regarding the security and back door phone issues.
- The security guard is not on duty after 11 pm.
- The back door phone has been out of order for some time.
- The new ID cards do not work at the back door (this has been going on since August when the cards were issued).
- When roads are closed due to construction, it is difficult to determine
where the shuttle stop will be.
- Benchmarking Studies
There was discussion of whether or not it is feasible to do a benchmarking
study to get an idea of how MCS compares to science colleges at other
comparable universities in term of issues like health insurance, stipends,
and various student fees. To begin a study like this, one representative
from each department should check with the person responsible for
graduate recruiting in their department. Since graduate programs are
typically ranked at the department level, the universities involved
will probably differ for each of the four departments. This might
prove to be a lot of work and not necessarily useful in negotiating
changes. It would be a good idea to bring up the subject with Rick
to see if a study like this would be helpful.
- Fees and Payroll Deductions
There are significant increases in student fees each year. The Technology
Fee in particular was discussed. The students would like to receive
more timely notice of increases and due dates. Some departments cover
this fee, but in others students rea responsible for paying it. Also
relating to the technology fee, there were complaints about the quality
of the Mellon Institute cluster.
Payroll deductions for health insurance payments are provided by an
outside company and are only available to students for a fee.
4. Communication Issues
The group discussed how to improve communication between graduate students
and the college/university. The Graduate Times is no longer published,
but in general people thought that a newsletter or flyer like the 8 1/2
x 11 would be a good mode of communication. Mass emails are sometimes
helpful but can be easily overlooked or ignored.
Although academic issues among graduate students in MCS are primarily
handled at the department level, it is still a good idea to share these
issues at GSAC meetings so that other departments can see how they are