The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Graduate Student Assembly meets to discuss issues on campus

On Tuesday, January 13, members of the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) gathered for their first meeting of the semester in the Conover Room to discuss events and issues regarding the graduate student body.

After welcoming new and returning GSA members, Assistant Director of Student Affairs Hallie Arena, who led the meeting, began the program.

First, Arena presented upcoming events relevant to graduate students.  The agenda was, “kind of event heavy,” according to Arena, because it was the first meeting of the semester.

First discussed was the memorial to graduate student Kim Cox—who passed away over winter break after suffering an aneurysm—on Wednesday, January 14.

“It’s supposed to be a celebration [of her life],” said Rachel Faas, a Masters of Education student.

Next was the first of the GSA Lunches also set for January 14.  For these lunches, students can pick up vouchers in the Carriage House or Eastside’s second floor lounge to be used in Anderson or at Eastside.  The next GSA Lunch is scheduled for Wednesday, February 11.

Arena also mentioned a class available to graduate students at a discounted rate at the Pittsburgh Glass Center on Saturday, January 17, and encouraged students needing to fulfill service requirements to participate in the MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 19.

Looking further into the future, Arena said the first Mug Club meeting would be on Thursday, January 22 at 4 p.m. at Eastside.  Through Mug Club, GSA offers graduate students free pizza and beverages, as well as the opportunity to socialize with their peers.  Last semester, the club met at 3 p.m., but Arena hopes this time change will allow for students whose classes conflicted with meetings to attend.  Mug Club will also attempt their first meeting on the Shadyside campus on Tuesday, January 27 at 5 p.m. in Café Rachel.

Finally, Arena mentioned the upcoming Mongolian Grill BBQ with Guest Grillers on Thursday, February 5 at 6 p.m.  As a fundraiser for Relay for Life, students can pay $25 for dinner and the entertainment of seeing Chatham faculty attempting to grill.

“[Many of] these are things that grad students asked for, so I hope a lot of grad students sign up for them,” said Arena.

Next on the agenda was the GSA Excellence Award.  Every year, GSA grants three students who have demonstrated professional, creative, or empirical excellence through their graduate work with $500 checks.  According to Arena, GSA tries to make updates to the program every year.

She asked students to provide feedback to help improve the process for applicants and judges.

“It’s meant to be an opportunity, not a burden,” said Arena.

After discussion about application requirements, the award categories, and submission methods, the assembly decided to reduce the number of letters of recommendation from three with one coming from a current program faculty member to two from any source.  They also considered adding a fourth category—excellence in service—although no final decision was made, and there was talk of having students upload all of their application materials as one PDF to Moodle so that judges would receive one file per applicant.

GSA will discuss the application further at their next meeting.  They plan to distribute applications in February for a March deadline.

Finally came the Open Forum portion of the meeting in which students submit questions or concerns for deliberation. Topics included a request for increased lighting along the Fifth Avenue entrance (which, according to Arena, is up to the Woodland Road Association, not the University) and complaints about cold temperatures in the Art and Design Center, some maintenance issues, the expiration of Chatham passwords without warning, professors not submitting required texts to the bookstore, and graduation fees for students not walking at graduation.  Arena promised to find answers to these questions as soon as possible.

For future Open Forums, Arena encouraged GSA members to seek out topics other than only those from their personal experience.

“I need you to be leaders in your programs,” she said.  “Please be a representative, and talk to your class.”

The next GSA meeting will occur on Tuesday, February 3 at 5 p.m. in the Eastside Main Conference Room.

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