We held an organizational meeting this Thursday, the first of the Spring semester. The semester at the Graduate Center actually start pretty late, most classes only started this week.  About eight of us were able to make it (eight is enough!).  We have a nearly full roster of speakers for this semester, in fact we have only one opening to fill.

A few things came up at the meeting, like sorting out the different funding streams (departmental, grad-center wide, and Doctoral Students Council (DSC) funding) and who’s responsible for them. Mapping out the topology of the byzantine network of organizations at a University as large and distributed as CUNY is no small effort in itself.

One thing we considered was setting up GEOS as a a Chartered Organization with the DSC.  One of our members is also invovled in a Chartered Org and they explained the process to us.  There’s actually a fairly high set of requirements to be recognized as a chartered organization, and it would require involving a few other departments. GEOS would be pretty different if it was administered by, say,  our program, Biology, and Chemistry, than if it was just by us. So most of us seem pretty leery about being a Chartered organization right now.

We’ve also been able to build up a list of email addresses of organizations that might plausibly and reasonably have recipients who’d like to attend the GEOS talks.  We have departmental faculty lists for the Grad Center and some of the other CUNY campuses, but we also have the emails of CUNY environmental/geology clubs and similar clubs at non-CUNY schools, especially ones that are physically close to the Graduate Center.  We plan on building this list and using it to promote the talks.  It’s always possible that someone at a science club a few blocks from the Grad Center might decide to pop over to catch a talk.  We’ll continue to build and refine that list.  These sorts of things probably aren’t all that great; people tend to ignore unfamiliar ‘broadcast’-type emails, but on the other hand they take no effort to use.  They’ll generate a ton of misses, but maybe a hit or two, which would make it worth it.

We’re trying to run the talks in a very simple manner; two members are responsible for each talk, which means they’ll get the food and drinks, put up flyers, blast emails, introduce the speaker, and clean-up. It’s actually a fairly small set of things to do, and we’re all pretty independent people so this is probably the best way to do things.

Since we’re grad students, we’re all pretty busy, we have classes that we’re deeply involved in, we have teaching/work assignments, and we also have our research, which most of us are just starting out; it can be pretty intensive.  So doing work for our GEOS lectures isn’t easy, even just having a meeting can be difficult to justify and schedule.  When it comes to funding, consider that the people we are requesting funding from are also grad-students, with similar workloads to ours. You have to really want to be involved to do this sort of stuff in addition to your classes.

But we all feel that it’s worth it.  This was another issue that came up at the meeting; generating involvement and helping to foster a sense of community within our program.  That might sound like a cliché or cheesey, but there’s more than an emotional rationale for it.   Grad School isn’t easy (and shouldn’t be). Having good connections with other students in the program can make a big difference in terms of your success and experience.

The meeting ended with, I think, most of us having a clear idea of some relatively small but important tasks to do and a time-line of when to do them by.