About six months ago, I got into the elevator in the UC and pressed the “3” button. My fellow elevator-traveler, shocked, said he’d never seen anyone travel beyond the second floor, and asked what was on the third. I responded that many of the offices for student organizations were there. As he stepped out of the elevator, he added that this must have been why he didn’t know what was up there: He was a graduate student, and had no need to set foot in a student organization’s meeting room.
I’m sure I looked appalled — and I’m sure he had no idea he was speaking to the president of the Graduate Student Assembly.
This anecdote is the best summary I have of the attitude of many graduate students on campus. They generally don’t see student activities as something they can or should take part in. Many have told me that even this, the campus newspaper, is written for undergraduates, and isn’t something they read. If this is true (as a Tartan Editorial Board member, I hope it is not), then I am afraid my message here will go unheard.
I ask you, graduate students, to step up. Become an active leader in a club, volunteer for a program, become your department’s representative, or take a leadership role in that department. Come to our Dec. 3 GSA meeting, where we’ll have Executive Committee elections. See what we do, and if you’re motivated, run for a position.
At the least, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to me with your own story, tell me what you do to take part in the Carnegie Mellon community. Or tell me why you won’t. Complain, shout, and explain to me why you believe something done on this campus is wrong.
GSA needs to hear your complaints to make things better for all of the graduate students on campus. We’re working hard to make things better. I’ve been lucky enough to work with nearly 60 graduate representatives this year, as well as with many others who sit on campus committees, work on special projects, and volunteer at events.
So I invite you to join me and the other graduate students on campus who take part in campus community, who donate their time, who make it out of their labs and offices, and who occasionally take the elevator up to the third floor. I look forward to working with you, to hearing from you, and to seeing you at our next happy hour.