The GSS regularly hosts Graduate Community Forums to encourage graduate students to ask questions, and to provide feedback to the GSS and key UMassD administrators who are largely responsible for setting, managing, and/or coordinating our graduate student experience.
These Forums are an important outlet for graduate student grievances, and serve as an opportunity for communication and change.
Each year, the GSS invites graduate students to participate in an Open Forum with the GSS and school administrators (see the minutes below). And for the first time in Fall 2019, the GSS invited students to participate in a confidential Internal Forum to voice concerns directly to the GSS without school administrators present.
The following issues have been recently discussed with the GSS. For the full list of graduate student concerns that the GSS is aware of, please visit the Issues page and upvote your concerns. We want to hear from you!
International student employment opportunities
GSS is aware that international student resources do not always support students whose visas may disallow off-campus employment.
Lack of administrative access on university computers that have been assigned to students
Graduate students are frequently provided university-owned computers to support their education and research, but lack the administrative permissions to manage software on these computers even when the computers were purchased by individual faculty labs. The GSS is aware that the lack of administrative access hinders the ability for students to carry out their work.
The GSS is aware that limited parking spaces can make it difficult for students with teaching assistantships to arrive on time to the classes and labs that they TA. We are also aware of increased parking pass expenses.
University health insurance
The GSS is aware that the cost of university health insurance has increased over the last few years, the insurance has high deductibles, and the overall quality of healthcare and insurance has declined. Large insurance fees due at the beginning of the school year are burdensome. We are aware that international students are obliged by the university to purchase this insurance and are therefore unable to seek alternative insurance options that may better align with their needs and budgets.
Program extension of I-20 for International students
Teaching and Research Assistantships
The GSS is aware that teaching and research assistantships are not currently meeting the needs of students with these assistantships.
We are aware of the following concerns:
- Low hourly rate for students with assistantships
- Teaching assistantship support is not guaranteed for the entire academic year
- There are inconsistencies between departments about assistantship pay, hours worked, required effort, and treatment
- Lack of HR or other administrative resources to help resolve issues with graduate assistantships, process relevant paperwork in a timely manner to ensure students are promptly compensated for this work, and to address any conflicts between students with assistantships and their direct supervisors
Graduate student fees
International student office support
The GSS is aware that international students struggle to find support networks that can help search for financial support, scholarships, and help address academic challenges. We are also aware that there is inadequate social and counseling support through the school and clubs.
The GSS is aware of the following resources which may help alleviate some of these concerns
Graduate academic honors
The GSS is aware that academic honors for graduate students are poorly documented.
Advising and University support
The GSS is aware that students lack HR or other administrative resources to help mediate issues between students and their primary advisor or direct supervisor. We are also aware that procedures to pair students with advisors differ between departments.