2020-04-06 BoD Meeting Minutes

Attendance

  • See attendance spreadsheet

Agenda

  • Announcements
    • Minutes from last meeting are on the forum
    • COVID town hall occurred on April 2
      • There were over 170 graduate students in attendance
    • BoD meetings are elections will be postponed until after June 19
    • John will be talking about lunch at the end
  • Visit from Teresa, Title IX
    • Teresa Meija is here
    • She also works with Peace Over Violence which is now serving as an additional confidential resource for students, faculty, and staff
    • Eventually Erin, Kate, and Taso will transition their role of confidential resource over to Teresa and Peace Over Violence
    • Note that Teresa is strictly here to serve as a resource and will not interface with title IX or anyone on campus unless you want her to
      • Mandatory reporting are harm to self/others, child abuse, or elderly abuse
    • She can also help refer students to resources, like through Peace Over Violence, and she can help with applying for restraining orders, moving housing, filing a police report, etc…
    • Title IX will refer people to Teresa, but note that she does not have authority to influence the investigation (she will be there as a support person) and she cannot attend Title IX meetings
    • Peace Over Violence is working to plan events for April which is sexual assault awareness month
      • Denim Day is April 29
    • She also has a calendar where people can sign up to speak with her as well as an option to contact her via email
    • She is open to suggestion about how she can be more visible to graduate students
      • Maybe one thing we can do is send out everything to all graduate students; there is a link in the Title IX newsletter to a video that explains what she is doing
      • Camilla can also send out the link and introduction as its own email
      • Also she is not as familiar with graduate student life, she is really open to hearing about new ideas for things that she can do to support graduate students (and what are the issues that graduate students face most office)
    • She is also working on a meditation video for sexual assault awareness month
  • Approval of new member
    • Reina Buenconsejo from CCE is applying to be a new BoD director
    • She has been coming to meetings throughout this calendar year and she has been involved with several sub committees including the social committee and the science policy committee
    • She is also involved with the Chemistry GSC (CGSC) and is looking to facilitate better communication between the CGSC and the campus GSC
    • She was approved unanimously, congratulations!
  • Election of Social Chair
    • Ellen Yan (CCE) is applying to be interim social chair
    • She has been on the academics committee (she helped with academic research spotlight) and she is excited to step up and help out where she can (especially during this tough time)
    • She is willing to help out with formal
    • Ellen has been approved as the new Social Chair
  • Other issues with social committee
    • How to hold events during this time
      • One way is to give out gift cards for happy hours etc…
    • Formal
      • We spoke with the deans and it is probably looking more like mid-August at the earliest
      • We are also trying to figure out how things are going to work with putting down a deposit and how to keep our contract straight
      • Another option is to have a smaller event, like at King’s Row instead of a large event
      • Raj has taken up the mantle of planning formal
        • He had things more or less finalized with the California Science Center, but he is still working on making a contract and it is probably not going to be possible to set anything up until after June (Caltech legal and student affairs have suggested not making any contracts at this time)
        • Note that they were willing to refund our deposit if the city still has restrictions, however, it is possible the city lifts the restrictions and Caltech does not
  • GSC and COVID-19
    • Graduate office is looking into instituting a sick day policy (we are following up on this)
    • Dimititris Sakellariou is looking into what is going to happen with parking
      • Note that you cannot cancel your parking permit without physically returning your permit to campus
    • Initiatives to boost graduate connections during COVID-19
      • There are some ideas in the Slack channel
      • Another idea is to try to provide some support for first and second year students who are starting candidacy or quals
        • This could also be something to work with the local student committees on
      • Dan and Alistair are also working to facilitate opportunities for people who want to help support the community
      • Another idea is that we could have a calendar that people could post events that they want to do
        • We could use the GSC calendar
      • Another thing is that GSC could be like the advertiser for all of these things
        • We could start sending weekly emails again (we had transitioned to monthly)
      • How to help people join online events
        • For example, women mentoring women is having much less people come join online vs when there were in person events
        • Also how do we help people who have fallen through the cracks or wouldn’t have joined events, since these people may even be less likely to join these online events where the barrier seems higher
        • Some ideas are to have more reminders (e.g. there could be a video clip set out like an hour before), suggest that video is not necessary, to have group chats, give people gift cards for showing up, or to have activities (e.g. house party, board games, cooking, etc…) instead
          • Another thing is to schedule things for the weekend
  • Health Insurance
    • Steve will talk about the healthcare committee
      • He was a member of this committee whose job it is to solicit feedback and make recommendations to the administration

* Note the original bid was $3,216, and so these measures were put in place to help keep costs down (now $3,088)
  * I think many people would rather have the increased premiums without cuts to coverage
    * However, Caltech is ‘unable’ to cover the increase in their subsidy
* Here is how we compare to other institutions:

* The committee pushed back really hard about the cuts to mental health so hopefully this will be taken into account
  • There is a group that is organizing to make a petition and organize town halls to try and advocate for students on the healthcare committee and hopefully effect some real change
    • One of their major goals is to organize a petition to bring to the administration to protest the changes in healthcare
  • We discussed at length about working together with this committee to integrate with the GSC. Many of us think it would be great if we could work together and try to organize things, provide funding, and interface with the administration
  • We are also going to work with the administration to set up a health care town hall
    • We discussed doing this when we meet with them next the first week in May, but it is probably better to do this earlier (we will try and aim to send an email this week)
  • Something to clarify from the email sent out to graduate students:
    • The final decision on healthcare has not been made, but the advisory committee meeting has already taken place. We think that it is unlikely that we can change things for next year, but that does not mean that we should not try to organize and fight against these changes. This should also help to keep momentum going into next year.
  • The main thing is we need to make sure that there is strong support and organizing for next year so that we are on top of this by the fall. This should give us the highest chance of actually having a voice and being able to steer the committee’s decisions and recommendations
  • The main action items on healthcare are as follows:
    • Draft the petition (the new healthcare group is working on this) and look it over before sending it out
    • Reach out to the administration about planning a graduate student town hall on healthcare (we will aim to send an email in the next few days)
    • Coordinate with the newly forming healthcare group to see if they want to be ‘part’ of the GSC (i.e. we just want to get everyone on the same page and hopefully deploy the GSC’s resources and rapport with Caltech’s administration; healthcare advocacy is also a major mission of the GSC so we really want to promote maximum participation in this group)