The Graduate and Professional Student Council of Duke University (GPSC–pronounced ‘gypsy’) is the umbrella student government organization for Duke’s graduate and professional schools. GPSC meets biweekly to address student concerns and issues raised by the administration. These meetings are open to all students and are led by the GPSC Executive Board (see sidebar). Felicia Hawthorne (Ph.D. Candidate, Genetics & Genomics), the newly elected GPSC President for 2011-2012, shares the following set of priorities for this year.
Career Services and Professional Development
GPSC has been heavily focused on improving access to career development resources across all schools and degrees on campus. Many of the professional schools provide separate career services to their students leaving graduate Ph.D. and master’s students without the same access. Recently, the administration has answered our calls for access for all students. Ph.D. and master’s students now have access to the University Career Services Center. I will also personally be able to help with the search for a new Associate Director of Graduate Career Services who fits our specific needs. We are interested in sharing best practices across our schools and other schools to bring together more centralized services that are equivalent for all students. We have added a new position to our executive board this year dedicated to this cause. Our goals are to advertise open seminars and services of each school to all students who may be interested. We also hope to work more closely with the Alumni Association and Career Services center to host events such as alumni-student lunches, and panels on alternative careers. We feel that we have had a great start on improving our career development resources, but would like to continue to improve.
A major concern of graduate and professional students recently has been the safety of students on and off campus. We hope to spread awareness of the dangers of any large metropolitan and the services offered to them such as the free electronic engraving service provided by Duke Police. We will encourage students to take full advantage of after-hours Duke Vans services for safe transportation on campus. We will work with the university to help students who do not have vehicles, find safe and affordable housing near campus. We will also lobby for transit routes that serve the large graduate and professional student population that walk to and from campus each day.
Communication and Visibility
I believe that many of the concerns of graduate students here at Duke are in part resulting from a lack of communication. GPSC can bridge that gap by becoming the go-to source for students to learn about all the services available as students. We have spent a lot of time in the past year updating our website, gpsc.duke.edu, to include summary content of the various resources and links to more information. We also have added a section to our weekly newsletter containing highlights from our recent General Assembly meetings. My goal is to engage more students across all schools and have them use GPSC as a resource so that we can better understand and address their needs. To engage students I believe we need to improve the visibility of GPSC. I hope to utilize existing events and venues to share important and relevant information.