2020-2021 Priorities and Initiatives

The list of priorities below were collected with input from graduate students in early July 2020 and presented to BoD members and grad students in a meeting on July 15th, during which follow-up contacts were assigned. This is not a comprehensive list of all activities/issues that members of the GSC are working on, but a more specific supplement to the descriptions given under each committee’s page. We encourage anyone who is interested in working on these or additional initiatives to join the GSC Slack or contact gscsteer@caltech.edu.

Healthcare

  1. Securing a better health plan for graduate students
  2. Increasing on-campus mental health support
  3. Increase student involvement in the healthcare decision-making process
  4. Increase mental health support related to specific events, such as the pandemic, working from home, increased childcare duties, social justice issues, uncertainties in visas
  5. Create a sick policy and explicitly note sick days that can be used for mental health

Housing

  1. Increase housing for graduate students or provide subsidies for students living off-campus
  2. Extend guaranteed housing to G2 students
  3. Tie graduate student stipends to a cost-of-living index that accounts for rent and healthcare cost increases; further discussion of pros/cons

Advisor-Student Relations

  1. Creating safer and inclusive environments in labs through mentorship/outreach to PIs
  2. Create a space for students to ask questions of other students about what is normal in student-advisor relationships, what are unreasonable expectations, and what reaches a level that it should be reported in some way
  3. Create workshop/course/resource for healthy & productive research collaborations
  4. Have advisors establish and agree upon (written) advising expectations: working hours, feedback, etc
  5. Structuring mentorship and professional development into annual thesis advisory committee meetings
  6. Make a standard institute policy to consider mentorship ability in tenure decisions

Student Parents

  1. Extend parental leave and childcare availability
  2. Create a lactation room in every building on campus

Admissions Advocacy

  1. Make graduate fee waivers easier to access and better advertised
  2. Remove the GRE across Caltech

Pandemic-related Communications

  1. Ensure that everyone is notified about new cases within the campus community; ensure contact notification is carried out appropriately
  2. Push for formal representation of staff and students in decision making
  3. Push for transparent decision making among administration

International Students

  1. Permanent legal support in the International Studies office at Caltech
  2. Financial aid for visa renewals, which often require expensive travel
  3. Develop a clear institute policy that ensures students who leave the country for visa renewals are still considered full-time students, to avoid loss of housing contracts and stipends

Diversity/Anti-Racism

  1. Keep the administration accountable to their email in response to the BSEC petition and advocate for the remaining action-items listed in the petition
  2. Unify GSC across divisions/departments in its efforts for greater diversity/inclusion