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GSAS Student Council Continues Board Nominations, Discusses Transportation Issues

The Harvard Graduate Student Council meets in Lehman Hall in early April. The body held its final meeting on Wednesday.
The Harvard Graduate Student Council meets in Lehman Hall in early April. The body held its final meeting on Wednesday. By Ellen P. Cassidy
By Angelina J. Parker, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Student Council continued nominations for unfilled board positions, reviewed recent motions for constitutional amendments, and discussed transportation accessibility issues at its final meeting of the academic year on Wednesday night.

The GSC first voted to update its constitution to reflect a recent raise in its annual student fee to $35, which was originally instated due to funding challenges faced by the council. The change will be implemented for all Harvard GSAS students beginning with their August term bills.

Several additional motions for constitutional amendments were passed during the meeting, including making elections for new board positions, which will now take place in a hybrid format, as the first item of business for April GSC meetings.

The GSC also addressed its new termination of the secretary position by adjusting the selection committee for conference and summer research grants to include the GSC vice president, two GSAS research deans, one member of the faculty, and one at-large representative of the GSC.

Procedures surrounding GSC by-laws were also adjusted so that amendments passed during meetings are officially instituted by the president and vice president of the council.

Each amendment was passed by majority vote.

Following voting on amendments, the floor was opened for students to nominate students to unfilled board positions after the body left at least 12 unfilled in April. The three currently open positions include the chair of communications, chair of research, and chair of technology.

Two students self-nominated during the meeting: Marie Pruinères for representative for international students, and Meghan Sullivan for representative of the natural sciences.

The GSC also announced its advocacy topic of the month, which is transportation. The GSAS student body is spread across three different campuses — Cambridge, Allston, and Longwood — and many students rely on public transportation to travel between home and classes each day.

Several students voiced dissatisfaction with the reliability of buses arriving on time.

Rachel A. Martin, the GSC’s parliamentarian and a Ph.D. candidate in Celtic Languages and Literatures, also pointed out the difficulty of receiving a subsidized MBTA card due to the MBTA’s delivery policies.

The MBTA requires a student to be present at home in order for a subsidized card to be delivered, she said, adding that the policy poses an issue for graduate students with busy schedules.

“You have to have somebody at home who can sign for them. A lot of times, I’m in the library, I'm on campus. I might not be at home to sign for them which means it could be an entire hassle to do that,” said Martin.

“I’ll actually sometimes tell them to send it to Florida where I live with my parents — well, my mother and my aunt — when I’m not here, “ Martin said.

“But that means they also have to send it to me here, which is one more step in the process. It means that it takes me seven more days to get it,” Martin added.

The MBTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The meeting ended with Jessica W. Chen, president of the GSC, honoring members of the various GSC committees for their work from the past year. Each student was presented with a certificate.

Committees honored include the Commencement Marshall Selection committee, the conferences & grants committee, the January@Harvard GSAS Mini Courses Committee, the elections committee, and the constitutional revision committee.

The GSC also agreed to take extra food from the meeting to students encamped in Harvard Yard entering their second week, though Chen noted the decision was made in support of the students rather than the political statement made by the encampment.

—Staff writer Angelina J. Parker can be reached at Follow her on X @angelinajparker.

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