MCS GSAC Meeting Minutes
September 26, 2002

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September 26, 2002

In Attendance:
Ayse Celil (Biological Sciences)
Tiffany Miles (Biological Sciences)
Justin Douglas (Chemistry)
Abraham Flaxman (Mathematical Sciences)
Kathryn Trapp (Mathematical Sciences)
Abhijit Brahme (Physics)
Marc Fasnact (Physics)
Oner Kozan (Physics)
Gregg Franklin (MCS Dean's Office)
Katya Malkin (MCS Dean's Office)

2000 GSAC Minutes Archive
2001 GSAC Minutes Archive


Everyone agreed that the career event was a success but the following suggestions were made if another event is held in the future:

  • Maybe hold the event on campus to increase attendance from math and physics (this year's turnout was primarily chemistry and biology students).
  • Have something different each year. It seemed that most of this year's panelists had backgrounds in biology and chemistry. It would be good to highlight different careers and panelists with different backgrounds.
  • Reconsider the possibility of a joint venture with Pitt as we had originally planned. This was cancelled due to a conflict with Pitt's Science 2002 event.
  • Holding the event near the TOC was not as successful as we thought it would be. Employers who came for the TOC were not as willing to come a day early for an additional event as expected.
  • Fall was a good time to hold the event, but the group felt that end of spring would also be a good time.
It was estimated that 60 - 70 people attended, but that only about 10 were from math and physics.


Gregg briefly reviewed the current policy on membership replacement and term of membership, which is that members find replacements when they decide to leave and can serve on GSAC as long as they want to. Many people opt to leave when they are close to completing their degrees, as they want to spend as much time as possible finishing!

The group said that this policy was working well and saw no need to change it.


Health Insurance:
Gregg gave a brief update on the state of health insurance for graduate students. CMU does not set the cost of the insurance. Rather, companies bid for a contract with CMU. Unfortunately, only high bids were received this year. However, stipends were increased to compensate for the increase.

There is a plan to require all graduate students to have health insurance next fall. The plan includes a "hard waiver" which allows students to meet a minimum requirement of health insurance through an outside source (ie, coverage through a spouse or independent coverage). In addition there would be a shift from three levels of service to two.

Approximately 2-5% of students do not have insurance at this time.

About two thirds have insurance through CMU's plan. The move to required insurance would decrease the cost for these students by about 19%.

Carnegie Mellon is the only school in the top 25 graduate schools that does not currently require its students to have health insurance.

It is possible that GSAC could have input on the decision of whether or not to make health insurance mandatory. The group did not feel strongly about this issue and had no opposition to mandatory insurance. However, they suggested checking into whether it is possible to join together with Pitt and other local universities in an attempt to reduce costs.

Ombudsperson Policy:
Gregg reviewed the policy on ombudpersons and asked if anyone felt the need to revisit whether their department needs to appoint an ombudsperson

Chemistry and Biology currently have ombudspeople (Rea Freeland and Amit Srivistava, respectively). Marc, Oner, and Abhijit said that it was not clear whether Physics has one. Kate and Abie said that the math department voted on whether an ombudsperson was needed and determined that one was not needed.

Gregg suggested that a memo be sent to the students in biology, chemistry, and possibly physics, letting them know who the ombudsperson is and how to contact them.

Additional Events:
This year's poster session is scheduled for Friday, February 7, 2003. It will be held in the Connan Room in the UC.

Another Happy Hour will also be planned for early to mid November. The group should ask each department for $200 to fund the event (same as last Happy Hour). We will try to hold this one on campus since the last one was held in Mellon. Katya checked into the possibility of getting the NSH Atrium or a space in the new lab building, but unfortunately NSH is only available for SCS events and the only space in the new labs can accomodate only 15 people. Any suggestions for rooms are welcome!

Campus Safety: Given recent incidents reported on and around campus, the group felt that this was a good time to address safety. Mellon Institute in particular has numerous security issues. Rick McCullough is aware of these issues from his attendance at a GSAC meeting last year (and also because his office is in Mellon). However, we can continue to stress the importance of security and make specific suggestions for improvement. Some suggestions included posting security guards at the doors after regular business hours, locking the front doors after hours since the area around them is not well lit and installing additional lighting is not an option.

IV. WRITE-UP OF CAREER EVENT FOR GRAD TIMES Oner volunteered to write a brief review of the career event to submit to the Graduate Times. The deadline for submission is Friday, October 11. If anyone has other ideas for submission, please let Katya know! You are also welcome to submit ideas directly to Lisa Ritter (lr2c@andrew).


Kevin Collins, the SCS Career Consultant (and Renee's successor when she goes on maternity leave during the spring semester), is presenting a workshop for undergraduates of all colleges on Monday, September 30th on deciding whether or not to go on to graduate school--plus tips on applying. He and another career consultant have the usual garden variety PowerPoint presentation all ready to go, but he would like to make the program at least a *little* bit interesting. Justin volunteered to go to the workshop and share his own experiences with the undergraduates. NEXT MEETING:

Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 17, from 2:30 - 4:00 in DH 1322.