2012 Ivy Summit at the University of Pennsylvania

On November 21, 2012 by Grad Forum

Members of the GSC Exec Board at the Summit

A couple of weeks ago we wrote you an article on our upcoming trip to the University of Pennsylvania for the 10th annual Ivy Summit. Well, we went, we had a great time, and we thought we’d share some of our experiences. Each fall, a different Ivy School (plus MIT) hosts the Ivy Summit. These are conferences dedicated to sharing experiences of student governance, as well as focusing on advocacy issues — this year’s focus was on building mental health resources.

In 2011, MIT hosted and, this year, six members of the GSC headed down to Philadelphia to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). We arrived on the 2nd of November and were immediately welcomed by a UPenn student delegate. Then we met our colleagues from the other Universities and promptly bonded over Japanese food.

On Saturday morning, over a substantial breakfast spread, the State of the Nine addresses were delivered in a room overlooking the skyscrapers of Philadelphia. The State of the Nine is an annual feature of the Summit where each Student Council President delivers a fifteen-minute presentation designed give an overview of graduate life at their school. Topics covered include changes in student welfare, advocacy campaigns, and overviews of social life. Subsequently, the student delegates at Dartmouth were able to learn about the structures of other student governments, as well as what their counterparts at the other schools were doing. All of this will help the GSC facilitate the best possible student experience at Dartmouth.

Following the State of the Nine we split off into groups to discuss more specific topics related to student governance and mental health. Here each college led a tutorial to share expertise. Dartmouth presented on: “Enhancing Graduate Student Participation and Cultivating Agency around Student Initiatives and Activities.” Again, our president, Julia Bradley-Cook, took the lead for Dartmouth, during our tutorial. Here she focused on agency, engagement, and participation.

One of the ideas that surfaced in our discussion was having “student deputies”. These are people who stand on committees or take particular responsibilities advocating for an issue. The advantage of deputies is that it allows people to interact with student governance on their own terms, dedicating their time to what they feel is particularly important. We look forward to implementing these positions soon.

After the morning’s proceedings, we broke for lunch – again, we ate and socialized with other graduate students. Then we went back to tutorials where we continued to share experiences and knowledge with other schools. The other school’s tutorials were as follows:

  • Yale: Methods for facilitating conversation/student feedback with administrators
  • Columbia: Quality of Life Survey
  • Cornell: Emphasizing the Importance of Graduate Student Programming and Space
  • Penn: Building Institutional Memory
  • Harvard: Tailoring Mental Health Services to Graduate Student Needs
  • Princeton: Striving for Balance in an Unbalanced Life
  • Brown: Mental Health as “Foreign” to International Students
  • MIT: The Power of Student Advocates as Change Agents
  • Penn: Self Care as a Means to Protect Mental Health

Speaking on the Summit, Vice President Justin Richardson said: “The Ivy Summit was an excellent opportunity to showcase the great events and programs the Graduate Student Council puts together. It was good to learn from the other schools, to see how they help their student bodies, and what problems they face. I am very thankful to University of Pennsylvania GAPSA for hosting the annual event and am currently in contact with many attendees of the summit.”

That evening, conference delegates proceeded to a Japanese Karaoke Bar. Here we dined and hung out with other students from the Summit. Your social chair, Gilbert Rahme, wowed everyone with his performance of the Backstreet Boy’s “Quit Playing Games with my Heart.” I doubt Philadelphia will ever forget us.”

On Sunday morning we reconvened for a breakfast (the most substantial French toast I have ever seen) and to recap the Summit. Bradley-Cook met with the other Student Body Presidents to give feedback and to strategize for future years. After a long productive couple of days we said our farewells. There was just time to pick up a Philly Cheesesteak before our long journey home.

by Dan Durcan

Photo by David Bendell

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