Each year, graduate student government leaders from the eight Ivy League Schools and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) attend the Ivy Summit. A student-run, best practices conference, the Ivy Summit is hosted by a different Ivy+ school each fall. In 2010, the Ivy Summit was hosted by Princeton, and 2011 marked the first year that MIT hosted the conference. The University of Pennsylvania has agreed to host the 2012 Ivy Summit. This year, six members from the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council attended the Ivy Summit.
Student delegates arrived in Cambridge on Friday, November 4th, and attended a welcome reception at MIT’s Green Building. At the reception, Alex Evans, President of MIT’s Graduate Student Council (GSC), and Christine Ortiz, Dean for Graduate Education at MIT, gave welcome addresses to attendees.
On Saturday morning, the “State of the Nine” addresses were delivered at MIT’s Media Lab, an interdisciplinary research facility founded in 1985. The “State of the Nine” is a series of fifteen-minute presentations given by either the President or Student Chair of each school’s graduate student government. Each presentation is meant to give a brief overview of the activities of each school’s graduate program, and is followed by a five-minute question and answer period. At this year’s “State of the Nine,” the student delegates from Dartmouth learned about the structures of the student governments at MIT, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, as well as the annual social activities hosted by each school, and the advocacy methods utilized by each council.
In his address, Wesley Whitaker, President of Dartmouth’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) showcased the new web presence of Dartmouth’s Arts and Sciences Graduate Programs, outlined the GSC’s involvement with Dartmouth’s Strategic Planning, and explained the GSC’s role in graduate-student life.
For the graduate student leaders in attendance, the Ivy Summit served as a way to learn about the recent accomplishments and ongoing initiatives of each institution, and provided a platform to address common challenges. Out of the 48 graduate-student leaders who attended the conference, the six Dartmouth GSC Executive Board members who attended the conference–Aarathi Prasad, Ana Draghici, Erin E. O’Flaherty, Julia Bradley-Cook, Marie Onakomaiya, and Wesley Whitaker–comprised one of the larger student contingencies at the summit.
“I was thrilled to be able to attend this year’s Ivy Summit,” says Erin E. O’Flaherty, Dartmouth’s Graduate Student Activities Coordinator. “The ‘State of the Nine’ was incredibly informative on both an individual and institutional level. Hearing about what is working—and alternately not working—at each university helps the GSC shape how we implement changes and move forward here at Dartmouth.”
After breaking for lunch, graduate student delegates attended a series of student-taught breakout sessions. This year, session topics included “Improving Graduate Education: Metric Comparison & Best Practices” led by Yale’s Andrea Stavoe, “Sustainability” led by MIT’s Sis Ni, “Website & Communication” led by Dartmouth’s Wesley Whitaker, “Graduate Community Space” led by MIT’s Ellan Spero, and “Communication Beyond the Graduate School” led by Brown’s Matteo Riondato.
After Saturday’s busy agenda, MIT hosted a formal dinner at the Institute’s museum. Inspired by the 2006 film Night at the Museum staring Ben Stiller, the dinner featured foods including Vietnamese-fusion spring rolls, a humus bar, and a variety of brochettes. After dinner, student delegates were treated to a private showing of a selection of the MIT Museum’s permanent collection.