GSA Social: A Cold Front Blows In
by Lemuel Morrison, MBA 2012
Yesterday mother nature brought Autumn to New York. Graduate students at Baruch got more than cool weather. Picture the scene of an event last night:
- Sweeping views of Manhattan;
- Vintage wine, import beer, hand-crafted sandwiches and classic nosh;
- Smart, polite, and professional men and women queued up to get into the event;
- Uniformed security guards minding the doors;
- Rigorous and double ID check; and
- The unlucky milling around and unable to get in;
This description could very well describe the first-class sky lounge at La Guardia. It might even be one of those uber-cool pop-up clubs we read about in the tabloids. This event, if you weren’t there, was our first GSA social of the semester. The event almost didn’t happen. The dedicated members of the GSA rushed (amid their own school work and case competitions) to address the rule changes. They lined up a new food and drink vendor and managed to put the event together. Thank you for your hard work!
It was a work event, however, for your weary correspondent. The GSA socials are the rare events where one can meet grad students from all three schools (School of Public Affairs, Weissman and Zicklin). Moreover, the wine has worked its magic and softened the cynical edge of the grad students.
In the wake of the kerfuffle over the Academic Excellence Fee (AEF), it was time to get some facts about the opinions of the graduate students on the AEF. It was also an opportunity to assess what attendees thought of the GSA Socials. I got an earful. The tough part was getting these independent and thoughtful grad students to “color inside the lines.” It was like herding cats, especially the entrepreneurs who had more ideas than I had paper. You know who are! I love all the great thinking-out-of-box qualities–all you! But good grief, how do I put this all systematically together? Check back soon for an online survey in case I didn’t get to you. The results will be public and forwarded to the GSA.
Here are some entirely unscientific and anecdotal observations about the AEF:
- Grad students were still quite miffed about how the AEF was rolled out;
- A common refrain was, “I might think it was a good idea, if I knew what is was for?”; and
- There was interest, albeit divergent, in how the funds might be used (e.g. more staff for academic advising and the GCMC, grants for travel, and grants for student-led initiatives).
There were some interesting observations about the GSA & Socials portion of the questionaire:
- There were, indeed, students from the SPA and Weissman schools;
- Everyone read (or at least opens) the GSA Newsletter;
- There is a universal low opinion of the value of the GSA Social; and
- There is strong, maybe even overwhelming, interest in programmatic additions to the event.
On balance, I would argue that everyone appreciates the event. Judging from the smiles and laughter, I would chalk it up as a success. We owe a huge thank you to the efforts of the GSA to put this together. There are sweat, tears, maybe some blood, that the organizers endure on top of their studies. Specific appreciation goes to Gitanjali Upot and Moheeta Tamrakar who stepped up and filled the empty social-director tasks for this event. Thank you.
The following commentary is based upon anecdotes and from my observations (not from investigated and substantiated facts). There is certainly more (much more) to each story and very well may represent conditions writ large in general society. My intent is to elevate issues here and highlight the general mood out there. Comments are most welcome.
- I got vociferous opinions, but only off-the record. When a student described an issue they faced at Baruch, they demanded absolute anonymity. (e.g. indifference and outright antagonism from Baruch Staff, unanswered complaints regarding academics).
Why is there a sense of fear of retribution (real or perceived) about speaking one’s mind and asking for answers and results?
- The rules are strict and being applied in a dogmatic context-free and uneven manner. (e.g. forgetful grey-haired students unable to prove they were older than 21, staff who were not working the event being let in without an ID check).