We want your input for a Rapid Planning Group on Graduate Student Experience

The Graduate School has formed a Rapid Planning Group on Graduate Student Experience. The GSC is looking for 2 PhD students and 1 Master’s student to serve on this committee which will meet this summer, July 13-August 21. The focus of the rapid planning group will be on identifying and recommending specific and concrete improvements that could be implemented this academic year. Applications are due on Wednesday, July 1, by midnight, and representatives will be notified by Friday, July 3. Contact Vanessa Ryan (vanessa_ryan@brown.edu) with questions about the rapid planning group and contact Torrey Truszkowski (gsc_nominations@brown.edu) with questions about the application.

Commencement Celebration and President’s Toast on May 22nd at 7pm

The Graduate Student Council invites you to attend a celebration for this year’s graduating masters and doctoral students. Our commencement celebration will be held on Friday, May 22nd from 7:00pm-8:00pm in the Graduate Student Lounge. All masters and doctoral students are welcome, as well as friends and family. Light refreshments will be served.

As per tradition, President Paxson will give a champagne toast at 7:30pm to honor this year’s graduates. In addition, the GSC will also present the Wilson DeBlois Award to this year’s recipient, Angelica Vargas, in recognition of her unwavering support of and commitment to graduate students at Brown University.

Please join us next week in raising a glass to the soon-to-be graduates and to Angelica Vargas. We look forward to seeing you there!

Overview of Open Forum on Campus Climate and International Graduate Student Experience

Last Wednesday, April 15th, the Graduate Student Council held an Open Forum on Campus Climate and International Graduate Student Experience. We had approximately 50 attendees, administrators and students included. We had approximately 50 attendees, administrators and students included, and structured our forum around an open discussion of issues and concerns affecting graduate students at Brown. We had a productive discussion centering around three topics: 1) employment for international grad students, 2) support services, and 3) community spaces. Brief overviews of the key points raised during the forum can be found on the GSC website (available here). We would like to thank those participants who shared their experiences either in person or in writing, and we would also like to extend our gratitude to the university administration, faculty and staff for their active presence at the forum.

To add to this conversation anonymously, please submit feedback via this google form or email any member of the GSC executive board.

See below for brief overviews of the key points raised during the forum. Please note that personal details have been removed in the statements taken at the meeting, and online commentators have given permission to share their comments in full. An additional note: in each overview provided on the website, “students” refers one or more respondents who shared similar observations at either the open forum or in the anonymous comment form.

1. Employment and financial concerns for international students: Students expressed their frustration with limits on work hours that prevent international students from pursuing work at the Writing Center and the Sheridan Center. Several students stated that they were unaware of the financial challenges they would face in the U.S. and wished for more institutional outreach focused on proper financial preparation for living and working abroad.

2. Support services: Students expressed concern that departments, advisors, and DGSs have been either unsupportive or unaware when graduate students have struggled with mental health issues or have sought reentry after taking medical leave. Students suggested that the present advisor-advisee structure is unchecked, granting one person too much power without secondary petition. Students also stated that CAPS and existing support services, though vital and appreciated, are currently not well advertised for addressing actual graduate student issues and thus may not be seen by graduate students as useful. Finally, students raised the concern that International Graduate Student Orientation is too brief an event to anticipate all of the additional support and resources that international graduate students may need.

3. Graduate student community spaces: Students stated that existing spaces available to graduate students are limited and inadequate. There is no centralized space in which graduate students from across campus can meet, work, or socialize. Master’s students and international students feel particularly isolated due to the nature of their programs and the hardships incumbent to moving to a new country. Furthermore, students feel that the auxiliary housing affiliated with Brown is not only adverse to current doctoral student stipend levels, but also insufficiently managed.

In reviewing the issues raised at the forum and the anonymous comments received, the GSC intends to explore the following potential solutions:

  • Appoint a staff member at OISSS who is specifically responsible for international graduate student issues and understands the financial stress these students face;
    Consider extending hours and number of sessions for graduate students at CAPS;
  • Begin a discussion pertaining to ways to allow international graduate students access the same opportunities afforded to domestic graduate students (notably, opportunities for employment at the Writing Center and the Sheridan Center);
  • Create follow-up community building activities and resource events after International Graduate Student Orientation;
  • Provide advisor and DGS training on mental health resources to ensure that faculty are sensitive to student situations and know the resources available to provide informed support to students who need help;
  • Allow for an increased capacity at the Writing Center for graduate student writing support;
  • Provide student training on navigating advisor-student relationships;
  • In cases of attrition, keep records of student situations and outcomes;
  • Keep track of first-generation students as well as students with children;
  • Improve auxiliary housing options;
  • Create a Graduate Student Center in order to provide shared community space for graduate students.

In the coming months and in partnership with the administration, the GSC will move forward on concrete solutions to address the issues raised at the forum. It has become abundantly clear that beyond issues with employment and community space, isolation is an issue that many of us share. Although we may feel as if our particular situation is an isolated case, in reality, there are many cases of isolation throughout the graduate student population. We hope that our efforts as well as the ongoing support provided by the Office of Student Life, the Graduate School, OISSS and CAPS will help to improve graduate student life at Brown in the near future.

With your invaluable contributions, we can begin to address the issues graduate students continue to face at Brown.

Spring Formal ticket pre-sale

To avoid lengthy lines at the door, tickets will be pre-sold in the Graduate Student Lounge (The entrance is accessed from Thayer, south of the Gradate Center Dormitory, beneath the winding staircase) at the following times –

– Monday 4/13: 9:00am-11:00am
– Tuesday 4/14: 5:00pm- 7:00pm
– Thursday 4/16: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
– Monday 4/20: 1:00pm-3:00pm
– Wednesday 4/22: 7:00pm-9:00pm
– Friday 4/24: 3:00pm-4:00pm

Pre-Sale tickets are $10 per person. Each Brown Graduate/Medical Student is allowed to purchase up to two tickets (for themselves and their +1). Discounted tickets will be sold for $5 per person with the donation of a non-perishable food item. Please have your student ID at time of purchase. We ask that if possible, each student bring exact change in order to purchase their ticket(s) as it will aid in the fluidity of the pre-sale process.
Tickets will also be sold at the door for a flat rate of $10 per person. Canned goods will not be accepted at the venue and should not be brought.

Open Forum on Campus Climate and International Graduate Student Experience

Following the events of Tuesday, March 31st, the Graduate Student Council has decided to hold an Open Forum on Campus Climate and International Graduate Student Experience on Wednesday, April 15th from 7pm to 9pm, in the Kasper Multipurpose room at the Stephen Roberts Center for Students.

The forum is open to all graduate students, international and domestic, and will provide an opportunity for attendees to provide comments, thoughts and concerns related to mental health resources, support services, graduate student spaces and community-building activities.

This forum will be held in the presence of President Paxson, Provost Colvin, Vice President for Campus Life Klawunn, Vice President for Institutional Diversity Cariaga-Lo, Assistant Dean for International Students Delalue, as well as deans of the Graduate School and representatives from the Office of Student Life and CAPS.

If you are unable to attend the forum or wish to provide your feedback anonymously, we have prepared a Google form for comments, questions and concerns (available here).

We look forward to your attendance and/or your feedback.

Support Events in the Wake of March 31

Several events have been planned following the death of international graduate student Hyoun Ju Sohn:

How to Help a Friend – Saturday April 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm in the Rockefeller Library – Quiet Room (Level A)

How to Help a Friend – Sunday April 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the Rockefeller Library – Quiet Room (Level A)

Community Gathering – Tuesday April 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm at the Sciences Library — an informal event for students, faculty and staff in the Friedman Study Center, Level A

Memorial Service – Plans for a May memorial service to celebrate and honor Hyoun Ju Sohn’s life are being made, and additional details will be shared with the Brown community as they develop.

We would also like to re-iterate the resources available to students:

The Office of Student Life has student support deans who are available for appointments or consultation at (401) 863-3800 and after hours through the administrator-on-call at (401) 863-3322. The administrator-on-call service has been expanded to provide additional support for graduate students.

Counseling and Psychological Services is available on-call and in the office for appointments or consultation at (401) 863-3476. CAPS offers emergency support 24/7 if needed through (401) 863-3476 or by calling the Department of Public Safety at (401) 863-3322 and asking for CAPS on call.

The Chaplains Office is on the 4th floor of J. Walter Wilson and can be reached at (401) 863-2344.

The Samaritans of Rhode Island, a suicide prevention resource center, has a hotline at (401) 753-7936.

The Deans of the Graduate School are available to you. We have office hours, will meet by appointment, and are available for drop-ins for graduate students.

GSC April General Meeting and Campus Support Services

As we share with great sadness the loss suffered today in Brown’s Department of Physics graduate community, the GSC April general body meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 1st at 7PM in the Graduate Student Lounge (42 Charlesfield Street, entrance on Thayer Street), will open with an extended time for conversation and support to speak with each other. Assistant Dean of the College and Director of International Student and Visitor Exchange, Shontay Delalue, as well as Counseling and Psychological Serivces (CAPS) representatives will also be present, as will other members of the Brown community. All graduate students are invited to attend.

The GSC would like to echo the reminders provided in the recent Campus Life email regarding on-going and year-round support on campus for all students at Brown:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services is available on-call and in the office for appointments or consultation at (401) 863-3476.  CAPS offers emergency support 24/7 if needed through (401) 863-3476 or by calling the Department of Public Safety at (401) 863-3322 and asking for CAPS on call.
  • The Chaplains Office is on the 4th floor of J. Walter Wilson and can be reached at (401) 863-2344.
  • The Office of Student Life has student support deans who are available for appointments or consultation at (401) 863-3800 and after hours through the administrator-on-call at (401) 863-3322.
  • The Deans of the College will be offering some extra open hours for undergraduate students on Wednesday on the second floor of University Hall.
  • The Samaritans of Rhode Island, a suicide prevention resource center, has a hotline at (401) 753-7936.
  • For students, faculty, and staff with questions or concerns regarding how to assist others in distress, on-line resources and information can be found here.

Additionally, please know that the GSC executive board and I are available as well.


Joel Simundich, GSC President 2015

Young Alumnus Trustee Selection Committee

The GSC seeks a current student representative for the young alumnus selection committee. Email gsc_nominations@brown.edu (Torrey Truszkowski) with a brief description of your interest and qualifications by Friday, March 27 at noon. This person will join current students from each group to select a single young alumnus trustee (0-7 years from graduation). So far, the young alumnus trustee has been an undergraduate student, so it is especially important that we have a strong advocate on this committee