2019-09-20- BoD Meeting Minutes

Agenda

  • Announcements
  • TechFest sponsorship (event funding request)
    • Kristen is here to talk about requesting funding from the GSC for TechFest
      • They would like us to help contribute to this event
    • Want to put on a large event for the whole campus community which includes club fair fair, bands, and an outdoor movie
    • Getting ~1000-2000 from other departments and funding sources
    • We would get the chance to make announcements to the whole event through the MC (will be there for live music)
    • It may also be possible for us to “sponsor” a certain food truck or event
    • She noted that there was some turnover in the office planning this event
    • Discussion
      • The total budget for event funding (this could go on next year)
        • We have 700 left this year and 5000 left for this year
      • It seems ‘weird’ that they are asking us for money after the fact or that they are just asking us for money
      • Maybe this is more like an opportunity to sponsor an event
      • We may not get much from sponsoring anything because people aren’t paying attention
      • There is also the idea that we are ‘buying in’ to help put this event on for grad students (i.e. we are getting a voice in the larger community)
      • Maybe the best course of action is to say that we can fund it this year but in the future we would like more funding
      • Note that the money does not ‘disappear’ if we don’t spend it, it just kind of goes back into the general pot
      • We will have this vote on the slack
  • Approval of new Director
    • Sephen (Steve) Markham, GPS
    • He would like to be the new health care representative
    • He is approved
  • Orientation events
    • Resource fair, October 4, we have two tables
    • Let Camilla know if you want to participate
    • If you are a chair of a committee you will also be expected to be there
    • Next Tuesday we are getting swag and we need people to help put stickers on them to ‘brand’ them
      • Look out for a slack message to help with this
  • ISC updates
    • Wanted to have an international movie night
      • However, there is not enough money to license the movies
      • Would like some more funding to try and show at least two movies for next year
    • Legal counselling for international students
      • People have had difficulty getting their visa back after returning back to their home country to renew their visas
      • One idea would be to get some legal aid from the Caltech legal office
    • Also note that the visa fees are going up every year
      • Also if you get stuck in your country for extra review and you are dependent on your stipend, then this can be a huge burden for the student
      • Note that the emergency fund does not support legal fees
    • Note that a large number of international students that are spending over 1000 on renewing their visa
    • One thing that would be great is if anyone would like to help writing the GSC survey report, specifically the sections on international students
  • Budget for 2019/2020
    • Budget proposal for the next year; this is the outcome of what the budget committee decided two weeks ago (each committee had a rep as well as one person from a small club, one from a big club, and another person of David’s choosing)
    • See the budget spreadsheet, which is available for everyone to see
    • Note that there is ~5000 that is rolling over into the total budget
    • Then from each of the buckets (i.e. committee budgets) 60% of the rollover goes right back to that committee and 40% goes back to the total GSC bucket
    • Note that the request for $3000 in swag for the orientation events, and it was decided that we would spend $5 per grad student
    • There will be a big increase in club funding, quick funding, and event funding
      • This is aimed to encourage people to just ask if they want to have events (everyone should encourage just requesting for events vs preallocating)
      • This also makes money available for people who are not technically a club (but there needs to be at least one committee sponsor)
      • All of the BoD expenses have been reduced and steering initiatives have all been combined into one bucket
    • Vote to approve the budget
      • Unanimously approved with no one abstaining
  • Survey highlights from Advocacy
    • The purpose is to provide a gauge on what is happening with grad students at Caltech
    • The central things we have been focusing on:
      • Housing and financing
      • International students
      • Diversity at Caltech
      • Advisee/advisor relationships
      • Grad students supporting dependents
    • Everyone is invited to join the advocacy slack channel
      • Then you can see what is going on with ou advocacy efforts and hopefully help out, contribute, and point out things that they are interested in advocating for
    • Diversity
      • Caltech is not very diverse, females and underrepresented minorities are underrepresented at Caltech vs other top schools
      • 20% of students said that they weren’t on a satisfying career path because of lack of diversity in the field
      • Open to ideas about how Caltech can improve this
        • Note that the diversity committee is also working on a specific report on this
      • We can also do a climate survery to get more information about this
      • We also want to advocate for improving recruitment efforts
    • Advisor/advisee relationships
      • People are generally uncomfortable talking to their advisors about routine things like mandatory vacation and research direction
        • Also on the whole women are less comfortable with this
      • GSC hosted workshops or events that help people learn about strategies to communicate with their advisors
      • Institute a campus-wide progress tracking program (like the NIH’s myIDP [individual development plan])
    • Housing and finances
      • Housing is very expensive causing graduate students to be financially stressed
      • Stipend is finally growing faster than inflation, but it is not close to keeping up with housing
      • 50% of students who had to move reported that the move was extremely or very stressful
      • 75% of people would like to live in Caltech housing, but only 50% can
      • Try to advocate for continual increases in stipends
      • Establish a moving fund in addition to the emergency fund
    • International students and students with dependents
      • International students: 36% of people faced difficulties or hardships when collaborating, traveling, or renewing their visas
        • There is also a huge burden associated with visa costs (see above)
        • If anyone is willing to help with this
      • Students with dependents: they have increased financial needs, only 2% of grad students applied for the emergency fund whereas 36% of students with children applied for this
        • Advocating for giving priority to those with children for 2 bedroom apartments
    • Please join the advocacy committee slack channel and contribute to the report if you are able
      • We will also set a time (next Friday) to work on the survey report together (look for an email about this)