2019-11-18 BoD Meeting Minutes

Attendance

  • See attendance spreadsheet

Agenda

  • Announcements
    • BoD meeting minutes are on the forum
    • Yoga event was approved for partial funding
    • Next BoD meeting will be Monday, December 9 (location TBA)
  • Graduate Research Spotlight
    • We are looking for someone to be responsible for this (this would be a subcommittee chair position)
    • This is a series of talks and a poster session during the alumni weekend and a chance for grad students to present their research to alumni
    • A lot will be handled by the alumni office
    • Email Nicole (nwallack@caltech.edu) if interested
  • GSC Survey results
    • An overview of what is in the survey report:
      • Diversity
        • Caltech is not as diverse as peer institutions
        • The diversity committee is writing a more comprehensive report with more suggestions for what should be done
        • We are just proposing more transparency and working with the Caltech Center for Diversity to engage more students
      • International students
        • International students experience significant legal hardships
        • They also face significant visa costs
        • We are proposing Caltech to provide free or low cost legal support for international students and some help to offset visa costs
      • Students with dependents
        • Students with children dependents face significant childcare costs and other financial burdens
          • It is also very hard to find space for childcare both at Caltech and in the community (basically always a waitlist)
          • There also seems to be an increased financial burden for women with child dependents
        • There are also limited lactation rooms on campus
        • We are proposing reserving spaces in local childcare facilities and an additional stipend for students with dependents
        • We are also proposing designating lactation rooms in every major building on campus
      • Advisor-advisee relationships
        • Many students don’t feel comfortable talking to their advisors; for instance, taking a few days off for mental health
          • There is also a discrepancy between men and women, with more women reporting feeling uncomfortable
        • We are proposing mandatory mentorship training, GSC workshops on advisor-advisee relationships, and focus on advisor-advisee relationships at the student faculty colloquium
        • We are also proposing an institute-wide sick leave policy (these days could also be used for mental health)
      • Housing and finance
        • Housing costs have increased significantly over the last 5 years
        • There is a large discrepancy between those who live in Caltech housing vs those that live in non-Caltech housing
        • We are proposing increasing the minimum stipend to 38,000 for next year
          • Alternatively, we are proposing an increased to 36,500 and an additional housing subsidy for those who are denied Caltech housing
        • We are also pushing for Caltech to acquire more housing
        • Finally we are also proposing implementing some kind of moving assistance fund
        • Why can’t the institute subsidize the stipend increase with tuition/overhead relief for advisers?
          • They are supposedly already subsidizing this, but we are discussing this
        • Note that we should to make sure to note that sick leave should not be included in vacation days
        • We can try to get this info to the faculty more aggressively through sending an email or potentially attending the faculty meeting
          • We can also try to meet with President Rosenbaum directly
    • The entire survey report as well as all the raw data is on the forum
    • One other thing to implement is to have GSC members to engage directly with their respective option reps
  • Petitioning for Thanksgiving Dinner
    • We need volunteers to run petitioning for this (Caltech dining is taking care of the food etc…)
    • This is a good opportunity to get graduate students to sign petitions/get the word out about GSC initiatives
    • Options for petitions
      • Non-Caltech housing stipend
      • Legal aid for international students
      • Parking discounts for graduate students
        • The parking increase will significantly burden graduate students, especially those that live off campus
      • Sick leave policy
  • Housing Stipend committee
    • The administration has asked us to write a report on housing subsidies offered by other institutions
    • If anyone would like to help with this or has any information about what is going on at other schools, please email John (jthompso@caltech.edu)
    • This would be targeting the 2021-2022 academic year (i.e. presenting this to them later this year for the 2021-2022 budget meeting which will happen in the winter of 2020)
    • We will also try to work with Doug Rees and on our own to contact other institutions about how housing subsidies are being implemented