Advocacy Resources for Students

Whether you are facing an immediate issue or just want to learn more about the resources available to Caltech graduate students, this page is a collection of these resources.

GSC Advocacy / Option Representatives

Advocacy is one of the GSC’s main committees and missions (along with Academics, Publications and Social). Our goals are largely driven by student feedback. We will work to either directly advocate for your issue or connect you to the appropriate resources, as appropriate. This is the best method if you have an immediate issue. You can contact us through:

GSC Advocacy is committed to improving student quality of life. To learn more about our responsibilities and ongoing projects, see the Advocacy Committee page.

Student Health

The Student Health Center is open on Mondays through Friday, year round. No appointments are necessary and all Caltech students can access the Health Center, whether or not you have Caltech Student Health Insurance. Click on the link to see the hours of operation and services offered.

The Counseling Center is open from 8am to noon and from 1pm to 5pm on Mondays through Fridays. You can set up an appointment by phone or in person. The Health and Counseling Centers are in the same building. Currently, the Counseling Center has drop-in evening hours from 7pm to 10pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

Additional resources and links:

After Hours health resources page (includes information for urgent care centers, psychological emergencies, emergency contraceptives etc.)

Health and Dental Insurance

Effective September 2014, the current student health insurance provider is United HealthCare (changed from Aetna). Switching from Aetna to UHC is expected to be cause minimal changes.  On the GSC’s Technique website, you can find an overview of our UHC health insurance plan. Our plan is a PPO, which means your costs will be significantly lower if you use a preferred provider.

The provider for Caltech Student Dental Insurance is Delta Dental. Our plan is a PPO and pays a set amount for each procedure if you visit a Dental PPO provider (you pay the difference). Information about our student dental insurance plan can be found on the Technique website here. Caltech also offers vision discounts for prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Each summer, Caltech students have the option to enroll or waive the Health and/or Dental plans for the next school year. Students can only waive the Health plan if they show sufficient coverage through another source. Students can waive the Dental plan if they have any other coverage. If you make no decision by the deadline, you will be automatically enrolled in both plans.

Our health and dental insurance plans are administered by the Human Resources department. They have provided a list of contact information. The contact in Human Resources for student health and dental insurance is Kurt Murdoch.

Additional health insurance information:

Financial Support

If you are an incoming graduate student, your first paycheck may not arrive until the end of October. To assist you with startup costs, Caltech offers a New Graduate Student Startup Loan ($2500). You may have received information about this loan directly from the Graduate Office and it also appears on the “Incoming Students” page on the Grad Office website.

The Graduate Studies Office also has an emergency fund to help students with unexpected and unaffordable expenses (including but not limited to health expenses). They also have funds for conference travel. You can find more information on the Graduate Studies website.

Students with Spouses and/or Dependents

The Graduate office provides a $100/month subsidy for health expenses of any student’s spouse and/or dependents. The form can be found on the Graduate Studies website. The subsidy can cover health insurance premiums as well as out of pocket expenses. You can submit this form with proof of expenses at any time during the year (i.e. you can claim the entire amount of $1200 at the end of the year or $400 every four months, etc.).

Pregnancy

For graduate students who may become pregnant, Caltech has policies that prevent discrimination against pregnant students as well as maternity and family bonding leave. The most current version of the Caltech parental leave policy is on page 281 of the 2013-2014 Caltech Catalog and is summarized below:

Pregnant graduate students may take 8 weeks of paid maternity leave (maintaining full benefits). Any graduate student parent (male or female) may take an additional 6 weeks of unpaid family bonding leave (maintaining full benefits). In addition, if there are medical complications, up to 6 additional months of medical leave can be taken with approval of the dean of graduate studies.

Students are encouraged to work with the Graduate Office to get the necessary support. GSC Advocacy would also appreciate feedback from students about their experience and whether they got the support they felt they needed. In addition, the Title IX office (details below) may be a good resource if you feel you have been discriminated against due to your pregnancy or parental status (mothers and fathers).

Childcare

For students with children, you can apply for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) which can provide up to $4000 per year to defray childcare costs. There is a limited window to apply for funding. The amount granted is based on the employment and/or student status of the parent(s), the combined gross family income and the age and number of children.

Graduate students are also eligible for child care through the Caltech Children’s Center. However, currently, the wait list is long and the tuition costs are high. Their website mentions some subsidies are available. There are also alternatives listed in the links below.

Other useful links for students with spouses and/or children:

Graduate Student Life

These resources help create a welcoming, safe, and inclusive community for graduate students. If you have a problem, they may be able to help.

  • The Title IX Office: covers discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, stalking and sexual violence. The website includes confidential and non-confidential resources.
  • The Catalina Residential Life team, particularly the Resident Associates and the Graduate Residential Life Coordinator (GRLC) are a great resource for students living in the Catalina Graduate Student Community. The GRLC is Larissa Charnsangavej.
  • The International Student Office is an important resource for issues relevant to International students (e.g. travel signatures, J-2 spouse work authorization, questions about your F-1 or J-1 status, and taxes).
  • The Graduate Studies Office can also help resolve any conflicts between you and other Caltech members (even your advisor).

In addition, you can always contact your option representatives or members of the GSC Advocacy Committee (see above) if you need help finding a resource or if there are no current resources available for your current issue or problem.

Honor Code Issues

For the information on resolving Honor Code issues (including reporting), please see the Grad Office’s Honor Code page. The Graduate Honor Council is responsible for honor code issues for graduate students and can be reached at GHC@caltech.edu.

Other Resources

Finally, here are other groups on campus that do not fit into any of the above categories, but are helpful for improving graduate student life

  • Caltech Sustainability; the GSC also has a Sustainability advocate position.
  • Caltech Athletics: All graduate students are members (our membership is included in our student fees) and can use the facilities, borrow equipment, book rooms, and attend fitness classes. Membership for spouses and family members are also available at a cost. You can also get updates (e.g. schedule changes and renovations etc.) from their Facebook page.