As the Hall of Graduate Studies transitions in 2017 from a graduate student space to a center for the humanities, graduate student leaders are calling the University to support student life and programming.
In particular, students have focused on restoring student-life resources that may be displaced by the renovation of HGS. On Wednesday, the Graduate Student Assembly unanimously passed a resource outlining the current resources HGS provides to graduate students, as well as recommending the creation of a permanent destination for Student Affairs and Programs after the renovation.
“[HGS] is our equivalent of a residential college,” said GSA Chair Joori Park GRD ’17. “It didn’t just provide housing — it provided a physical space where the entire grad community could convene.”
If a permanent relocation destination is not readily available, the GSA resolution asks the University to form a complete plan for a temporary location.
Graduate students at the GSA’s general assembly meeting expressed their irritation with the lack of specifics from the University regarding the new space.
“The answer [from the University] has always been ‘I don’t know.’ Or they say, ‘don’t worry we’ll find something for you,’” said GSA Vice Chair Colton Lynner GRD ’16.
Graduate students are dissatisfied with the lack of a concrete plan for a replacement space, said Wendy Xiao GRD ’17, chair of the GSA Facilities and Healthcare Committee, adding that the GSA resolution was a way to obtain more amenities in a new student center. The resolution suggests ways that graduate student resources could be improved. Among them are a 24-hour study space, recreational space and Yale Dining options for breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner.
“I’m very afraid that if we stay here there are going to be changes that make it less of a grad center,” Xiao said.
Although Park said the GSA advocates for resources to be moved outside HGS, graduate students do not merely want a large room in an arbitrary place on campus, she said. Facilities provided by HGS include meeting spaces that can accommodate more than 100 people, storage space for the GSA, music practice rooms and rooms for graduate student mothers.
Convocation, graduation, orientation activities and monthly social events for graduate students currently take place in HGS.
“The space needs to fulfill certain functions. This resolution documents specifically what kinds of space we need to have a functioning grad community,” Park said.
The resolution also recommends the creation of a committee comprised of faculty and elected graduate student representatives to make recommendations to the University about a new student life center. The committee should approve the final destination of the space, the resolution says.
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Director of the McDougal Center Lisa Brandes said in an email that she is working with Provost Benjamin Polak to find space on campus to create a new graduate student center. Although the McDougal Common Room and Blue Dog Café will reopen and will still be available to graduate students after the renovations are complete, HGS will no longer house the center for graduate student life.
The Graduate School Dean’s Office requested that the GSA create a list of current resources housed by HGS, something that GSA members saw as a sign that the University is concerned with graduate student needs.
To provide housing to graduate students living in HGS who will be displaced by the renovations, Yale will build new apartment-style housing for graduate students at 272 Elm St. with room for 82 graduate students in 41 two-bedroom units.