Harvard Graduate Council discusses goals and university-wide collaborations during the first session of the academic year | news


The Harvard Graduate Council held its first public meeting of the academic year on Monday to set out its priorities for the coming semester, including working with the Harvard Student Union, strengthening communication between the council and various university authorities, and exploring opportunities to better support from alumni.

The council, which was practically running its business for the final academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, held its first meeting in person and broadcast via Zoom. Traditionally, the meeting began with a tour of the hosting graduate school, which was the graduate school for design on Monday.

While some representatives physically gathered in the Graduate School of Design’s Drucker Gallery, those who opted to participate virtually were projected onto the front of the room to reflect the “strange new reality,” as the President of the Council and medical school student, Peter Choi, said.

Matthew R. Volpe, a Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers liaison for the council, said during the meeting that he hoped that HGC and the union would work together in the months to come. He noted that as a student group funded by the university, HGC can serve as a helpful resource for the union.

“HGSU can do many things because we are an independent organization – we are not a student group that is funded by the university. The members pay dues for our operations, ”said Volpe. “But there are also many things that HGC and other types of student groups can do that we can’t because we’re not a Harvard student organization.”

Volpe also urged graduate students to alert their peers to the strike permit vote – which opened on September 13 and remains open. Two-thirds of union members must vote yes to allow the union’s negotiating committee to go on strike.

HGC Chair of Advocacy Xavier I. Sayeed outlined additional advocacy initiatives by the council for the academic year, including setting up advocacy-focused council working groups, pressure on the university to create alumni emails, and a shopping week – a course preview -Tradition verified by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences which, according to graduate students, creates job insecurity.

Choi discussed ongoing progress in securing fully functional alumni emails for Harvard graduates, an initiative that began months ago. In response to the university’s decision to discontinue alumni email addresses last year, the council drafted a memorandum in favor of fully functional alumni email addresses referring to an unfavorable job market caused by the pandemic.

Choi said the university plans to put together a task force to look into alumni email addresses and other ways to assist their alumni.

“Harvard University administration has agreed to get rid of alumni.harvard.edu emails because it is a forwarding system and not an inbox system – it is a very out of date thing that our peer institutions are not using,” said Choi. “Right now, Harvard is trying to figure out exactly how to deal with the situation.”

Despite the technological challenges of coordinating a hybrid meeting with council members both in person and on Zoom, some representatives – including Chairman of Information Nima S. Zamanpour – were able to get to the heart of the situation.

“Welcome to dystopia,” said Zamanpour, laughing.

—Employee Isabella B. Cho can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @izbcho.

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