GPSA Working Groups
The Healthcare Working Group is processing data that has been collected over the last several years to determine what we know about graduate student healthcare concerns. Additionally, we are collected data about similar institutions and what kind of healthcare they offer their graduate students. Finally, we are working to create a report for the Legislative Affairs Committee with what we know, what questions we still have, and recommendations moving forward.
The Housing Working Group has nearly completed processing all housing data collected by the GPSA over the last five years to better understand common graduate and professional student concerns around housing. In order to get a more comprehensive picture, we are also gathering data from students at Research & Extension Centers around the state. Once reviewed, the GPSA Housing Working Group will create a SWOT report based on the findings to identify areas of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats around housing for graduate and professional students at WSU which will guide our efforts to address housing affordability and availability moving forward.
The Stipends Working Group is processing GPSA Census and aggregate data from the Graduate School to evaluate the quality of graduate stipends across the WSU academic programs. The group is also determining future steps that could help to improve the stipends’ level for graduate students and will be recommending those in a report to the Legislative Affairs Committee.
Budget Committee: The Budget Committee this semester helped finalize the 2020-2021 Budget for presentation at Senate in September. They also reviewed and advised on cuts following S & A reduction recommendations. We also worked on the RSO application roll-out, establishing deadlines and rubrics for review of the applications. The biggest project undertaken by the committee was the review and recommendations made for all RSO Spring 2021 affiliate funding applications.
Communication Committee: The communications committee has worked all semester to update the GPSA website with current and important information for graduate and professional students. In addition, the committee continues to consistently posts to the GPSA social media pages with events, announcements, and updates, and well as other important information for WSU students.
Community Affairs Committee: The goal of the Community Affairs Committee this semester was to gather information to create a guide with community resources/organizations available to graduate and professional students. The committee is finalizing information and will publish the guide in the spring.
Legislative Affairs Committee: This semester the legislative committee has focused on 3 main projects. With the 2020 Election taking place this year, created a voting guide that centered on Statewide offices and the advisory/referendum votes. This voter guide was also shared with the Center for Civic Engagement and displayed on the WSU Libraries website as part of the Cougs Vote Campaign. The legislative committee also researched and crafted the GPSA legislative agenda for community, state, and federal advocacy. The primary issue areas of focus are Stipends, Childcare, and Healthcare. We also have been hard at work crafting a graduate student bill of rights and have been working with the administration have received broad support.
Internal Affairs Committee: The Internal Affairs Committee has been working on advertisement materials for the General Election this semester. We’ve also worked to make the Bylaws more accessible by creating a “Concern Form” that’s now available on the website. Finally, we are working on a departmental contact list so departments that haven’t filled their Senator position will still get GPSA updates.
Professional Development Committee: There were a total of 17 PDI events held this past semester that were all conducted online, via zoom. With the isolation of the pandemic, many students found the time to log in to connect with students and speakers in a wide variety of topics. With a career, academic, and mental health tips and tricks students had access to talks such as The Post-Pandemic Job Search: A Blueprint for PhDs & MScs provided by the Cheeky Scientist. Jerika Hines was brought in to discuss an extremely important topic in the Fieldwork Initiative’s #MeToo Fieldwork Training. Many topics discussed focused on honing skills in teaching and productivity. The work and Wellness Discussion Series discussed the book Outliers and we wrapped up the semester with a Panel with Industry: Entrepreneurship and Patents.
One of the most attended events was the symposium to support graduate students as teachers, which consisted of a days’ worth of events with a combined 120 participants. Attendance of events over the semester totaled 527 students.
The Professional Development Initiative also offers institutional memberships to both Grammarly, The Cheeky Scientist, and Versatile Ph.D. There are 100 active users for Grammarly, with a total of 12,433,564 words checked since September.
In an abundance of caution, the events next semester will also be held online via zoom. Be sure to check out events that will be available in the spring here: https://gradschool.wsu.edu/pdi/2020-2021-pdi-event-calendar/
Programming Committee: In fall 2020, the Programming Committee put on a total of ten social distancing and virtual programming events for our Pullman-based graduate and professional students. Our goal for the semester was to host at least 2 events per month. We kicked off the semester with a Welcome Back Grab& Go Ice Cream event at Ferdinand’s which had a turnout of over 200 students, followed by a very well-received Bingo Night in September with about 35 students. We also held a “Life in 2020” photo competition. Throughout the semester, we had opportunities to collaborate with different organizations and offices on campus for our programming events. We worked with both Dr. Cill Richards and Dr. Anne Cox to host four Mindfulness Sessions – all of which received good feedback from our participants. Perhaps the one event that we are most proud of is the GPSA Virtual Dining Event that was held in collaboration with WSU Catering Services. This was the very first time that either GPSA or Catering Services worked to put on a virtual cooking/dining event for graduate and professional students and we thought it went exceedingly well. To support our local Pullman restaurants, both GPSA and ASWSU also collaborated to host a Pullman Restaurant Week from November 9 to November 13. We partnered with 5 restaurants (Sella’s, O-Ramen, The Land, Paradise Creek & Brewery, and Zoe’s) and offered students $5 off their meals. About 78 graduate and professional students participated in restaurant week. The Programming Committee has also been supporting other restaurants during this difficult time by purchasing gift cards as prizes for our events. To date, we have supported about 11 local businesses/restaurants. Finally, due to great feedback from our students, we hosted one final Bingo Night to wrap up our fall programming events.
Travel Grants: The Travel Grants Committee re-evaluated the program due to current COVID-19 restrictions and adjusted the categories to better align with the needs of students during the pandemic situation. This included: a reimbursement for registration for virtual conferences, workshops, wetlabs, etc.; expanding the current categories; and adding new categories. The committee also updated the Travel Grant page on the GPSA website. After reviewing applications from July-December of this year, the committee has awarded a total of $3500 to Pullman’s graduate and professional students.
Scholarships & Awards: The Scholarship and Awards Committee worked on updating the rubrics and application form for the Dissertation Grant funding program. They also extended the program to include any Ph.D. student who has passed qualifiers or preliminary exams. After reviewing applications for the Fall 2020 semester, the committee has awarded over $2000 to Pullman’s graduate and professional students. This committee is also working on planning the GPSA Research Expo and Excellence Awards events for Spring 2021.