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Harvard Graduate Council ‘All About Collaboration’ at First Meeting of the Semester

Graduate Student Council
Harvard Graduate Council President Bryan O. Buckley and Vice President Chanthia C. Ma speak at the group's first meeting of the semester Monday.

The Harvard Graduate Council reiterated its core mission of inter-school collaboration, advocacy, and event-oriented programming at its first open meeting of the semester Monday night.

Helmed by fresh faces — president Bryan O. Buckley and vice president Chanthia C. Ma — the meeting highlighted multiple new partnerships with other student organizations across the University, including the Undergraduate Council and the Graduate Commons Program. The council — which comprises members from each of Harvard’s 12 graduate schools — also created a new executive board position and passed its budget for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Buckley and Ma opened the meeting by announcing HGC’s new relationship with the Graduate Commons Program, a body within the Harvard University Housing Office that organizes graduate student life events. Lisa Valela, the program's director, said at the meeting she will work as an “event consultant” to help HGC plan, fund, and organize large-in-scale inter-school programming.

“What is HGC? It’s the convening of graduate students,” Buckley said. “Harvard is quite wide and very decentralized. It’s very important as we follow our mission to bring graduate students together that we find strategic partners that can help us with our mission and know the landscape.”

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HGC will also start collaborating with the Undergraduate Council. The two bodies are hosting Veritas Cinema, a forthcoming film and philosophy series. The UC further connected HGC to the College Events Board, and Buckley said he is confident that collaboration with undergraduates will continue.

“One of the things you saw pass in our budget was being able to have meetings with [the UC] to see if we can think about some of our programming in a collaborative way,” Buckley said in an interview after the meeting. “Whether it's a mentorship program or a speed-dating career type event.”

Buckley also announced the council will appoint members to the External Advocacy Committee in the coming weeks. Created last spring, the EAC is the lobbying body of the HGC and releases statements concerning everything from Boston politics to news coming out of Washington, D.C.

“Anything that can’t be changed by us internally to Harvard, but we’d like to have a stance on, the EAC will be our policy platform,” Buckley said.

The council unanimously voted to pass a budget of $151,020, the majority of which will be used for “student engagement.” Roughly 58 percent of the budget will fund events for students to interact and meet each other, according to Kelly E. Menjivar, an interim member from last year’s HGC board.

Buckley also proposed the creation of a new HGC position — Executive Person at Large — which the council approved. The new office will be responsible for advising HGC to ensure internal accountability and efficiency, according to Buckley.

Buckley closed the meeting by repeating his desire for HGC to bring together students from across the University.

“One of the platforms I used when I ran for president was to think about people, process, and programming, into that theme of how do we collaborate with other people around us,” Buckley said. “Harvard’s really a place that’s inclusive, and I think that inclusive culture has to begin with us.”

—Staff writer Luke A. Williams can be reached at luke.williams@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukeAWilliams22.

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