What Does the GSU Do?

In this guest post, Caitlin Smith Oyekole, a 5th-year English Ph.D. student and current Co-Vice President of the GSU explains the functions of the GSU and the many ways in which they support graduate students

This year, the 2018 Graduate Student Union executive board is focusing on improving communication between the GSU and the average grad student. Our big, first question is: Where’s the breakdown happening? Is it the website? Emails? Representative participation? And the answer is all of the above, but there’s a big central problem that keeps coming up.

Most grad students don’t really know what we do.

So here’s a quick overview of what the GSU is, what it does, and how you can get involved!

The GSU supports graduate students in all facets of life

The GSU is the largest and oldest graduate student organization at Notre Dame. It exists to support graduate students in all facets of life—academics, personal life, social programming, research, etc. It provides support in three main ways: money, programming, and proximity to power.

  1. Money
Above: GSU officers delivering bags of gold to hardworking grad students

Our budget comes from the GSU Student Fee and donations from the Graduate School, and we are supported by a dedicated ND staff member, Mimi Beck.

Above: Mimi Beck, a truly wonderful person 

The GSU has much bigger budget than the other graduate student organizations, and we’re happy to share! In addition to using our money to fund the programming for our committees, we set aside money to fund events for other student organizations. We also devote money to the Conference Presentation Grant and the Graduate Teaching Awards.

 

The GSU also centralizes other organizations’ funding for graduate students, like GradLife’s GO Grants, the Graduate School’s emergency fund for graduate students, and the Shirt Fund, which supports Notre Dame students with extraordinary medical conditions who have demonstrated financial need.

  1. Programming
Oh yes! We have parties, professional development, and… no snappy “p”-word to describe what Quality of Life does. Darn.

Three of the GSU’s five committees (Social and Community Engagement, Quality of Life, and Professional Development) organize events throughout the year. These can range from a big event like the Professional Development Fair, to smaller, demographic-targeted events, like Quality of Life’s coffee & chat series for married or partnered grad students.

 

Some big, long-running events happen every year. For example, the GSU always sponsors the Jingle Bell Ball in December and a Charity Gala in May. Check out the full programming schedule on our new website, which will go live at the end of Fall Break, to see exactly what’s planned for the year! And watch your inboxes for email alerts.

  1. Proximity to Power
What, you were expecting a different Hamilton reference?

While we aren’t a labor union, the GSU is the primary vehicle for communication between the university administration and grad student community. We mostly do this through committee work. The Academic Affairs Committee and Healthcare Committees place GSU officers on a wide range of university committees—everything from the Parking Lot Committee, to the upper-tier Academic Council!

 

Why committees? By sitting on committees, the GSU officer can represent the interests of graduate students at multiple levels within the administrative hierarchy. The GSU officer also makes sure that grad students know about important decisions that are being deliberated—by presenting a report at the GSU meeting. Anyone can come to GSU’s monthly meetings—you don’t have to be a departmental representative!

Passionate about something? Come to the GSU meeting and let your voice be heard!

 

The easiest, quickest way to get involved in GSU is simply to show up! We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month at 6:30 PM in the Duncan Ballroom. Dinner is provided.

 

You can also reach out directly to any of the Committee Chairs or the Executive Board. We want to hear from you—and we want to support you (E.G. make your lives easier)! Don’t hesitate to let us know what’s on your mind. We are a GSU that works for you!

President: Matyas Tsegaye 

Vice President: Oyekola Oyekole 

Vice President: Caitlin Smith Oyekole

Academic Affairs Chairs:

Alex Brodersen

Tony Rosales

Healthcare Chair:

Kris Murray 

Professional Development Chairs:

Tracy-Lynn Lockwood

Mortaza Saeidi-Javash

Jessica Zinna

Quality of Life Chairs:

Shinjini Chattopadhyay

Connor Mullen 

Joseph Thomas

Social and Community Engagement Chairs:

Alyssa Oberman

Hui Yin Tan

Incoming Grad Students & Social Media

Many incoming students have inquired about how to connect with other students before their arrival on campus, and how to find prospective roommates.  Here are a few helpful hints and resources:

Facebook

GSU Facebook Page
The Graduate School Facebook Page
Notre Dame Graduate Student Life Facebook Page 

  • Connect with other grad students, learn about events on campus and get recommendations for fun things in Michiana.
  • Add Notre Dame to your education/timeline, and Facebook can help you find others at Notre Dame.
  • Many academic departments, programs and institutes have their own Facebook pages, too, so network to your heart’s content!

Other Online Resources

GSU on Twitter
GSU Website
LinkedIn
myNotreDame
Links to Student Services
Off Campus Resources

Call for Help!

If all else fails, the administrative assistant in your academic program is often your best ally in solving problems and finding information.  Pick up the phone, go old-school, and give them a jingle!  You can find a listing of all graduate programs with contact information at graduateschool.nd.edu