Duke's Graduate and Professional Student Council covered a range of topics at their meeting Tuesday night, such as resources for handling sexual assault and a new vice president of graduate affairs. 

Aditya Shastry Eranki, pursuing his masters in engineering, was elected to the position with no objections from the crowd. Eranki has experience volunteering with GPSC’s pantry, where he helped create inventory lists and initiate the weekly bundle system. He is particularly interested in combating food insecurity among graduate students and assisting with the advertising and marketing campaigns for GPSC.

Actions against sexual violence, misconduct

In the spirit of the #metoo movement, Director of Advocacy Will Barclay, a graduate student in the department of immunology at the medical school, shared his and the committee’s goal to better highlight the University’s resources for sexual assault victims. 

“While I was an undergrad, I remember every time I went into a bathroom, or everywhere I looked, there were always postings [about] resources for sexual assault,” said Barclay, a former undergraduate of Case Western Reserve University. “Basically, what I noticed in coming here, which has been kind of confirmed by a lot of the stories from other students, is these resources aren’t really well-known by graduate and professional students. I’ve never seen a posting in my building.”

Barclay said that he and the advocacy team are starting an initiative that supports posting flyers around campus that list resources at the Women's Center and Office for Institutional Equity for anyone who experiences sexual assault. At the meeting, he handed out mini posters to attendees, outlining advice on what victims ought to do when contacting the two organizations.

“I ask you to find a bulletin board on your floor or something, and stick [the flyer] on it,” he asked of his listeners.

Barclay noted that he is looking to invite speakers to discuss sexual assault in April, for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

He also discussed his team’s actions to get graduate students trained to register North Carolina citizens to vote. 

In other business 

Council members learned that over $21,000 was added back into the GPSC budget because of the discovery of 51 inactive student groups which had previously obtained funding from GPSC. 

“We have $21,000 back into our account which is really cool. That means that next year, we’re starting with like $96,000 more than we did this year, so that’s a pretty big accomplishment,” GPSC President Rashmi Joglekar said. 

Jason Lee, a second-year student in the master of environmental management program and chair of the emergency travel fund committee, also discussed his proposal for reimbursement of graduate and professional students’ emergency travel payments. The grant amount for the fund is $200.

“It’s for strictly emergency travel. So, bereavement travel, if someone in your family or a close friend has a medical emergency and you would like to be there, we’d really like to help you,” Lee said.

The applications have one-week windows and the first application cycle for the fund was open this past week. The application windows will occur twice a month, on the first and third Monday of each month. People selected to be awarded the money are chosen via a completely randomized Qualtrics survey. 

There are strict eligibility requirements in order to receive the funds—one must request for the money within three weeks of when the travel last took place. The fund is meant to supplement last-minute emergency travel plans—they can be requested a maximum of two weeks in advance.

“This is one of the areas in which there aren’t a lot of resources available for students,” Lee said. “There’s the food pantry for food and clothing and school supplies. We have conference funding within the departments and schools. We don’t have anything for when you have to travel  back home on short notice and you have to shell out $800 to see your dying relative or something.”