Last weekend, some members of Penn’s Graduate and Professional Student Assembly spent their weekend learning from peers at other graduate schools.
From Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held an annual Ivy Summit, where graduate student government leaders from all eight Ivy League schools and MIT gather at one school to share ideas about how to enhance the welfare of graduate students.
“Those nine schools are leading universities in the country, and we face similar challenges and opportunities,” Penn GAPSA Chairman and third-year Law School student Joseph Friedman.
This year, Penn sent six GAPSA members, along with the Associate Director of the Graduate Student Center DeAnna Cheung.
“Since board members change every year, we need a consistent member in our delegation to know what has been going on in the past,” Friedman said.
The Summit, which was revived in spring 2004, has origins that stretch back many years.
This three-day event consists of welcome receptions, state of schools reports from all nine universities, small discussion sessions and a closing brunch.
This year, GAPSA board members had opportunities to think about how to improve their organization.
“We learned about the graduate student governments at all the other universities: how they are structured, how many students they serve, the size of their budget, recent accomplishments and future goals,” wrote Nina Zhao, GAPSA vice chairwoman and second-year student at Perelman School of Medicine, in an email.
Members discussed ways to improve communication with student groups, advocacy techniques and interactions with University administrators and alumni, she added.
Zhao hopes this conference will help GAPSA to be more involved in the graduate student communities.
“We received some great ideas on how to better reach out to the graduate student community to increase their awareness of GAPSA and our activities,” Zhao wrote. “While we are known for our social events, we would like students to take advantage of our other services, such as student group funding, travel grants and advocacy on behalf of the graduate and professional student population.”
This year, GAPSA will also focus on making their website more functional and informative and communicating with graduate students through multiple mediums, including the GAPSA Weekly.
At the close of this year’s Ivy Summit, organizers announced that next year’s summit will be hosted at Penn.
“We are extremely excited and honored for the opportunity,” Zhao wrote. “We are looking forward to having another productive and informative conference with the student leaders at the other institutions.”