Tim Tai, Photography Editor

The University’s Graduate & Professional Student Senate’s new class of senators aims to steer Yale towards equitable and compassionate treatment of its postgraduate student body. 

Yale’s postgraduate answer to the YCC, the GPSS’s mission statement is to express the views of the graduate and professional student body to University administrators and the media, as well as to influence the culture of the University. The new class of senators was elected last Thursday.

The GPSS is Yale’s largest coalition of students on campus, with representatives from 11 of the University’s 14 graduate and professional schools.  Last fall, the 14 schools saw a total of 8,031 matriculating students, a student body larger than that of Yale College.

“Graduate and professional students do have many common needs and face common obstacles to meeting those needs,” GPSS President J. Nick Fisk told the News. 

Ph.D. student Vatsal Patel, who has been on the GPSS representing the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for the last three years, wrote to the News that his job as a senator is to “connect folks from different schools, as well as pass on feedback and ideas on programming, funding, initiatives and so on to Senate committees and University officials.”

The GPSS often works with institutions like the Graduate School Assembly, a collaboration which previously resulted in the creation of resources like the Ph.D. Family Support Policy and the Sixth Year Funding Initiative.

According to Fisk, in the past, GPSS has also advocated for students facing challenges like cost of living, food insecurity and a need for dental and vision insurance.

Fisk, a Ph.D. candidate in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the GSAS, joined the committee after struggling during their first years at Yale. 

“I had a particularly rough experience early on in my time at Yale,” Fisk told the News.  “I considered leaving, but found reasons to stay. I resolved, however, that if I was going to stay, I would try to leave this place just a little better than I found it.”

Committees within the senate focus on issues like advocacy, diversity and inclusion, professional development and community engagement.

As an Advocacy Committee member, Patel has previously focused mainly on safety and transportation for postgraduate students.  He wrote to the News that he has “advocated with the Yale administration for improved shuttle routes, safer and more available transit options, access to city and state public transport and lots more.”

Vice President Chrishan Fernando added that other Advocacy Committees have focused on “projects related to menstrual hygiene and sexual violence.”

The GPSS meets at The Gryphon, a pub serving as the Senate’s official home. Fernando also serves as the Senate chair of the Gryphon’s Supervisory Council. He works with Gryphon’s managers to ensure that the pub continues to function “as a welcoming and inclusive space” for graduate and professional students.

“Gryphon’s Pub plays an important role in fostering social interaction among [graduate and professional] students,” Fernando wrote in an email to the News.  

The space combines administrative and recreational facilities and serves as the main convening spot for graduate students on campus.

GPSS President Fisk’s goals for the upcoming year also focus on encouraging togetherness for students.

“I want to make sure the committees that constitute GPSS are empowered to take bold but sensible swings on issues they are passionate about,” Fisk said. “I want to transition GPSS to having an accessible hybrid structure. And I want to bring graduate and professional students, who were already quite siloed and isolated before the pandemic, together to build a durable social community.”

The GPSS is the representative body for the Divinity School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, the School of Art, the School of Drama, the School of the Environment, the Jackson School, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Management, the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Architecture.

Miranda Wollen is the University Editor for the News; she also writes very silly pieces for the WKND section. She previous covered Faculty and Academics, and she is a junior in Silliman College double-majoring in English and Classics.