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New GPSC President Outlines 2013 Goals

Dear Friends,

My name is Amol Yadav and I am a 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. I serve as the President of the Graduate and Professional Students Council (GPSC) for 2013-14. As the chief spokesperson of the council and official liaison between the council and Duke administration, it is my honor as well as pleasure to represent you all on campus.

Over the summer the executive team of GPSC has been actively involved in outlining its goals for the academic year and planning a myriad of social and professional events. To keep the spirit of graduate life alive during summer, we organized a bunch of social events which received an overwhelming response from the student community. The yearlong move into our new office on Alexander Avenue finally culminated with a two-day cleanup organized by UCAE, thereby leaving most of the space for ourselves. This greatly increased our designated space and has enabled us to broaden the scope of events we can organize.

Since August, we have attended dozens of orientation sessions for incoming students and tabled student group fairs in all nine of Duke’s graduate and professional schools. As President, I had the opportunity to address incoming students and inspire them to participate in the social, political and administrative aspect of GPSC. Our first General Assembly meeting of the year was hugely successfully with 66 of the 80 elected representatives in attendance. With about 30 more reps still to be elected, the student participation in GPSC this year seems very promising.

We recently concluded ‘Basketball Campout,’ an annual celebration of Duke Athletics and student life, where approximately 1500 students participate in camping over a weekend, to win Duke Basketball season passes. This year we changed the programming of Campout to make it appealing to those who don’t camp for passes, thereby making it more inclusive for the entire graduate student community. We introduced new events like “Reverse Tie Dye,’ ‘Corn hole Tournament,’ invited food trucks to participate in a rodeo and collaborated with restaurants to give away free lunches and breakfasts. Students spent Saturday morning taking part in community service activities outside Duke. Overall, a 60 member Basketball Campout Committee worked extremely hard to demonstrate how thousands of students can come together to build the community and foster inter-school friendships.

As the year progresses, GPSC will work closely with administrators to address the various issues facing Duke’s graduate and professional students, most importantly safety on campus and off-campus housing. We have already spearheaded efforts to identify student perspectives regarding safety through online surveys, communicated those concerns to Duke Police and suggested solutions. To analyze the housing situation and identify housing related issues we have set up a special ‘Student Housing Committee’ which will liaise between GPSC and the administrators in the Housing Dining and Residence Life section of Student Affairs. We will continue working with Duke Police and Student Affairs to identify new issues and advocate for viable solutions with the administration.

To enhance inter-school collaboration, we are launching a new program called ‘Bridging GaPs’ (Graduate and Professional Schools), where students from various schools will participate in weekly GradX style talks, academic paper competitions and brainstorming sessions in our newly occupied GPSC office on Alexander Avenue. To increase our presence on campus, the GPSC team advocated for coverage on ‘The Chronicle,’ which resulted in the newspaper dedicating a weekly page for GPSC. We have also successfully remodeled the email delivery of our weekly newsletter to students, owing to which around 5000 students read the newsletter, to identify various events of interest on campus.

To conclude, I can say that the GPSC team is always looking for new ways to enhance the academic as well as personal experience of all graduate and professional students at Duke and it is my absolute pleasure to be surrounded by such passionate and dedicated colleagues. I look forward to working and meeting with all of you during the year.

Thanks a lot,