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Lounge created for grads

Nov. 11, 2004

GSA members offer more opportunities, facilities for grads

By JANICE MARIE FERGUSON, reporter

It'll be a place to call their own. Space on the third floor of Rena Marrs McLean Science Building has been set aside as a graduate student lounge and office space for the Graduate Student Association (GSA), according to Dr. Laine Scales and Dr. Kenneth T. Wilkins, GSA co-advisors. Along with acquiring the lounge and office space, GSA members have worked to rejuvenate student participation by holding more social and academia-related activities for graduate students. The lounge area and expanding programs are a part of the graduate school's larger mission to meet the needs of the "whole student," according to Scales, associate dean of graduate studies and professional development.

"When a graduate student comes to Baylor, we want to address all their needs," she said. According to GSA President Christiana Biggs, many graduate students who were active in their undergraduate years want to remain active during graduate school.

All graduate students are members of the GSA and, in the last years, the organization has become more involved in its students' lives inside and outside of school, according to Biggs, a graduate student from Dallas.

Recently the organization's members have organized committees and participated in university-sponsored community service activities such as Steppin' Out. "This year's been very exciting," said Wilkins, associate dean of graduate studies and research. "There are more students involved, and we must meet the needs of a diverse student body." Scales said there are more doctoral students involved than in the past. According to Biggs, the organization has seen an increase in participation in every aspect. In years past, when the group held its monthly meetings, only representatives from each academic department were asked to attend.

Now, all students are encouraged to attend the meetings and voice their concerns or ideas.

Biggs said the organization is important to her because she gets to interact with students outside her department.

There are about 1,200 graduate students and she said the GSA gives them the opportunity to meet and "a place to feel like you can get involved."

With new programs like the Interdisciplinary Scholarship Forum, Biggs said students have the opportunity to sit in a casual atmosphere to discuss their research with other scholars and meet new people. Scales said the GSA serves as a sort of liaison between graduate students and the school's administration.