Leadership Perspectives

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

This past weekend was the culmination of a busy semester for the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA). Saturday night was our annual wine-tasting event, where 1000 graduate students and guests traded lab coats for cocktail dresses and suits and took over the Pittsburgh Aquarium to sample Old and New World wines.

Sprinkled among the Carnegie Mellon grad students, sharks, and sea otters were graduate leaders from other northeastern schools who were in Pittsburgh for the regional conference of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS), co-hosted by us and the University of Pittsburgh. It was a weekend that focused on graduate student life, and it was a great chance for us to share how we use our social events to promote interaction among graduate students and help them take a break from their long hours of research and studying.

Back in February, we took advantage of the Legislative Action Days event in Washington, D.C. organized by NAGPS. Three graduate students met with 13 congressmen over two days and discussed the importance of open access to research. GSA is now discussing the implications of passing a resolution about open access and is talking with other schools about the Right to Research Coalition.

Around Pittsburgh, we, along with other members of the Pittsburgh Council for Higher Education, have formed the Pittsburgh Student Governments’ Council to keep the momentum of student involvement that grew out of the tuition tax debate. We’re also branching out by hosting some of our monthly happy hours in new neighborhoods — this semester we have held events in the South Side and Greenfield.

Around campus we have been busy, too. Graduate students were celebrated during Graduate Student Appreciation Week in early April with free breakfast, free massages, a research exhibition, and departmental events. Graduate students have been involved with search committees for the new dean of Student Affairs, director of Student Activities, and career center director.

GSA stays active during the summer and will be discussing survey results from last year’s graduate student survey, the university’s master plan, and our upcoming budget. We are always looking for your thoughts and ideas about ways to improve graduate student life, so please let us know what you think!