GSC Guide for Grad Student Organizations and Department Council Reps

This is a short, informative page on the fundamentals of relationships between the Graduate Student Council (GSC), the Council Reps for departments, and departmental graduate student associations.

The GSC exists to enhance the overall graduate experience at MIT. We promote the general welfare and concerns of the graduate student body, create new programs and initiatives to provide opportunities for growth and interaction, and communicate with the MIT administration and faculty on behalf of all graduate students on issues from stipend recommendations to operation of the Muddy Charles Pub.

The GSC works closely with the departmental graduate student bodies and associations through GSC department representatives, and GSC department representatives are expected to participate in a few specific roles outlined below.


The General Council is the GSC’s highest collective body. It comprises representatives from departments, dorms, off-campus students, and other groups. It meets monthly (usually the first Wednesday of the month @ 5:30pm), and a representative from each department is required to attend the meetings.

Each department’s graduate student body selects their GSC Council Representatives each year according to their own leadership calendars and practices. Council representatives attend a monthly Council meeting to discuss matters on campus and vote on Statements, actions, leadership members and committee structures. 

If a Department Representative cannot attend a General Council Meeting (GCM), they are required to submit a proxy representative through this form from the same constituency to act and vote in their place. Missing three consecutive GCMs without a proxy is grounds for removal as a Council Representative, and the departmental student governing association will be contacted to ask for a replacement.

Please refer here to learn more about being a Council Rep, and check this page to see the current representative(s) in your department and ensure you’re represented. If you have any questions, please contact the GSC Vice President (



Any graduate student at MIT can join any of the GSC Committees, according to their interests. They are listed here. Below, we will highlight a few specific committees whose goals and aims align generally with several departmental groups and which we encourage departmental reps and organizations to get involved in.



The GSC’s committee on Academics, Research, and Careers (ARC) spearheads initiatives and events aimed at improving professional and academic life at MIT. ARC is responsible for pursuing academic and career-related advocacy issues for the GSC. To this end, ARC hosts a variety of events for graduate students, ranging from small networking events to large campus-wide career panels.

Some of the events and programs organized by ARC are:

  1. Academic Career Series: career panel series for academic jobs, finding a postdoc, and exploring non-conventional PhD career opportunities
  2. Professional Development Skills Workshop: workshops for career skills including communication, leadership, conflict management, improv, and networking
  3. Professional Development Exploration Grant: ARC offers funding to students to explore a professional development opportunity in an area outside their academic or research focus
  4. Travel Grants: ARC funds conference travel expenses that are not currently funded by the student’s advisor or other MIT-related funding
  5. Dissertation Boot Camp: ten days of quiet time thesis writing, coffee and breakfast, and workshops and mentors on wellness, writing, etc.



Advising Initiative

ARC Advising Initiative is working with MIT’s academic departments and administrative offices to enhance the research advising experience for grad students. While working with the advising initiative, you will interact with graduate department chairs and administrators, as well as collect information from graduate students and student councils through surveys or forums.

Alumni Relations

The Alumni Relations Subcommittee is to bridge the gap between grad alumni and grad students. To that end, the Subcommittee works with the Alumni Association to host a variety of networking events and talks to bring together alumni and students.

VISTA (Visiting Student Association)

MIT VISTA – Visiting Student Association has an objective that all visiting students make the most of their stay. They want everybody to connect with their fellow visitors as well as regular MIT students, who are interested in getting involved in an international community. And to make that process as efficient as possible, MIT VISTA not only helps the visiting students with their paperwork and a plethora of advice – coming from experiences of former visiting students – but they also organize countless social events, trips, and outings and offer lots of opportunities for people to network or find new friends.

Please contact the ARC Chairs ( for further details and to ensure that your department has a representative on the relevant email list to be notified of these meetings.



GSC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEI) works to encourage diversity, achieve equity, and foster inclusion for all MIT community members regardless of their identity (e.g. race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, pregnancy, religion, ability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, employment status, immigration status, or socioeconomic status). We also critically consider intersections among these groups to facilitate learning, understanding, and unity.

Overall committee goals:

  1. Collectively amplify the voices of, and advocate for, underrepresented groups in higher education so that every graduate student has the full opportunity to thrive at MIT
  2. Promote awareness, engagement, and community building around diverse experiences
  3. Keep the GSC, MIT departments and administration accountable to improving the recruitment, retention and degree completion of underrepresented groups via institutional level change


Two main subcommittees carry out working groups, projects, and issue campaigns:

  • Department and Classroom Inclusion (DCI): is a peer-to-peer development initiative aimed at establishing department representatives, called conduits, among all graduate programs and departments. Members in this subcommittee focus on department level advocacy.
  • Student Life (SL): is a community based initiative aimed at establishing constituency representatives, called c-reps, among underrepresented social identity groups. Members in this subcommittee focus on identity based, institute level advocacy.
    • Currently, we have c-reps for graduate women (GW@MIT), underrepresented minority students (URM), LGBTQ+, religious life, international students, first-generation/low-income (FGLI), and disabilities.

Note that general members of the DEI committee can contribute to any number of working groups, projects, or issue campaigns in either subcommittee. Everyone is welcome to our meetings.



The HCA committee focuses on community issues and student services that pertain to the entire graduate population. The committee’s work focuses on ensuring that the MIT graduate experience is enjoyable, affordable, safe, healthy, and marked by a welcoming community. The committee provides an avenue for members of the community to have discussions on issues pertaining to the graduate population.



A large portion of the work carried out by the HCA is done through a set of subcommittees, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of student life so that the committee collectively provides a positive impact on all graduate students. All meetings are open to the public and new members/observers are always encouraged! You may also wish to consult the committee meeting minutes to see what topics are currently under discussion. To find out more, please feel free to contact the HCA committee chairs at, or attend the next meeting which is usually advertised in the GSC anno.

  • Advocacy Subcommittee: The Advocacy Subcommittee is here to provide a consistent platform to make sure students’ voices are heard. The main focus of the Advocacy Subcommittee for this year will be: 1) 2020 Cost of Living (CoL) Survey 2) The new grad student residence at Vassar Street, to ensure that grad students’ needs are met. 3) Working towards the goal of ending financial distress for graduate students, especially those with families and less than 12-month appointments. To sign up simply email and indicate your interest.
  • Family Subcommittee: The HCA is particularly aware of the challenges in raising a family while attending graduate school. Childcare, Affordable Housing, family-friendly programming, and safety are some of the specific issues dealt with by the Family Subcommittee.
  • Off-campus Subcommittee: The HCA represents the social and welfare needs of all graduate students, 2/3 of which live off campus. The Off-Campus Subcommittee is charged with programming on advocating specifically on this constituency’s behalf.
  • Sustainability Subcommittee
  • iREFS Subcommittee: Provides confidential, peer-to-peer support for all graduate students at the Institute. Also helps point students to other resources on campus. (More information)
  • Transportation Subcommittee
  • Stipend Recommendation Subcommittee: The HCA is responsible for making a data-driven argument to adjust graduate stipend levels each year in order to move with inflation. The Cost of Living Subcommittee is responsible for collecting and processing data from our Cost of Living survey and recommending an appropriate increase. (This year the work of the Stipend Recommendation Subcommittee will be integrated with the Advocacy Subcommittee)


Decide who will be responsible for attending the following meetings:

The ARC meeting (

The DEI meeting (

The HCA meeting (

We are always looking for diversity of all kinds on our committees so that we can best serve the needs of all graduate students across MIT–regardless of department of study, school, gender, age, race, etc. Maintaining diversity of thought within GSC committees is critical to our success as a representative body for MIT graduate students.

Ensure that the departmental representatives for each committee are on the relevant mailing. If not, please email the relevant people to get your reps connected (see emails below).

And check out the GSC Committees not listed here, i.e. External Affairs, which advocates for grad students to bodies outside MIT, or Activities Committee, which organizes campus wide events/outings purely for the joy of it! We have named the committees for which departmental representation is critical, but want to encourage everyone to get involved in things they’re jazzed about.

RELEVANT EMAIL LISTS: The four GSC Officers (President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer). Useful for any general inquiries. The ARC co-chairs The HCA co-chairs. The Orientation co-chairs. Useful to link up with to discuss Orientation events between the GSC and the graduate student organizations  The DEI chair. Useful to link up for all DEI matters.

Graduate student organizations are encouraged to engage with the GSC beyond the required roles outlined below. Please contact the GSC Officers if you’d like to inquire about further engagements or have any other questions.