GAPSA helping students find community on campus

A newly remodeled office and a poster advertising campaign are two ways GAPSA is helping raise graduate and professional students awareness.

Amy Durmaskin

Between researching, teaching, writing theses and completing coursework, graduate and professional students spend a considerable amount of time working for and with the University of Minnesota. Although this time is spent on campus, students can be left feeling immersed in work, and excluded from the campus community. Graduate and professional students account for more than 25,000 students at the University, but some feel the graduate presence on campus is isolated and invisible. This fall, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly is working to make graduate and professional students an active presence on campus. “I’m not as involved as I want to be,” fourth-year medical student John Kampa said. “I feel removed from the campus atmosphere.” The first step in GAPSA’s campaign for conspicuousness is a set of 200 18 by 24-inch screen prints, created by local artist Adam Turman . The scenes depict montages of iconic campus images, such as the Weisman Art Museum and Northrop Memorial Auditorium , with a male and female “typical graduate student” superimposed. The hand-painted screens, set to hang in graduate student lounges, administrative offices and other visible campus locations, are aimed at increasing graduate student awareness on campus. “I think the prints will serve as a constant reminder that we are here, we matter and we are the engine of a great research institution,” GAPSA president and educational policy and administration Ph.D. student Kristi Kremers said. Another change in the graduate student routine is the remodeled GAPSA office in Coffman Union. Complete with couches and Nintendo Wiis, the space is meant to be a place for graduate and professional students to relax and meet with colleagues. GAPSA has also planned numerous new activities for the year intended to help graduate students relax and socialize with students across disciplines on campus. Their kick-off welcome back dance party, held last Thursday, was met with great attendance and approval. “We [GAPSA] never had something this fun,” vice president of GAPSA programming and second year public health master’s student, Emily Wang said. “This is more age appropriate and laid-back [than previous events].” The graduate and professional students seemed to share her opinions. Held at The Front Café , the dance party included free food and a DJ. “Usually undergraduate students have more parties and graduate students are supposed to focus on studies,” second-year education and human resource development master’s student Tharinee Nukul said. “[This is] a great opportunity to meet new people.” GAPSA hopes to continue the trend of more graduate presence and unity on campus. Weekly office gatherings, such as GAPSA Game Days every Tuesday with Wii tournaments and board games, and monthly social outings will be held in hopes that students can have a chance to unwind and socialize. “It’s hard to keep in touch with others,” second year nutrition master’s student Kanak Masodkar said. “[GAPSA] is a nice way to meet others.”