Minutes of the Graduate College House Committee
July 20th 2003


Present:

Mr. Manish Vachharajani (Chair)
Ms. Sharon Bewick (Secretary)
Mr. Hany Girgis (Social Chair)
Mr. Phil Marfuta (Bar Czar)
Ms. Brishti Guha
Mr. Murat Fiskiran (Athletics Chair)
Ms. Weining Man (Coffee House Manager)
Ms. Caroline Nguyen (Bar Czar)
Mr. Joao Boavida (concerned resident)
Mr. Morten Kloster (concerned non-resident)
Mr. Ian Parrish (concerned resident)
Dean William B. Russel (guest of honor and excellent cook)
Ms. Priscilla Russel (guest of honor and excellent cook)
Mr. Alexander Bufetov (Treasurer, present by proxy)
Mr. Lior Silberman (Assistant Chair, present by proxy)

Ms. Lisa Sherov (Residence Life Coordinator)
Mr. Eric Adelizzi (House Historian and all-around guiding expert)

Absent:
Mr. Ori Heffetz (Events Chair)
Ms. Donna Sy (interested resident, potential Social Chair)
Ms. Åsa Rennermalm (Regular Facilities Officer)
Mr. Batur Bicer (Regular Facilities Officer)
Mr. Jose-Luis Gastanaga (Social Chair)


While most members of the HC are, on average, 7 minutes late for a typical meeting, this meeting was unusual in that the majority of HC members were an hour early!!  Unfortunately, this was not evidence of a sudden, mass change of heart with respect to the importance of punctuality… no, I’m afraid that the cause was far less noble – the prospect of good, home-cooked food at Wyman House.  That said, Dean Russel and his wife prepared a feast that was more than worth showing up an hour early.  It all began with tortilla chips and peach salsa, and while the secretary cannot speak for the entire Committee, as far as she is concerned, the peach salsa is the most heavenly dish that she has ever tasted.  Following the appetizer, the HC dined on scrumptious chicken, sweet and crisp corn on the cob, and absolutely delightful salads.  The secretary, on behalf of the HC, would like to offer many thanks to the Russels for the wonderful meal.

The meeting then began in the Wyman House Library.  The secretary apologizes for not knowing the exact time at which the meeting was called to order… she was too busy enjoying brownies to look at a watch.  Mr. Vachharajani opened the meeting with one item of new business.  The HC had received one petition for the new Social Chair position, thus Mr. Vachharajani asked if anyone was opposed to appointing Ms. Donna Sy as Social Chair number three.  Mr. Marfuta pointed out that he hadn’t ever met Ms. Sy, thus it was impossible to know whether or not he approved.  Mr. Vachharajani reminded Mr. Marfuta that he had, in fact, been at the last meeting (well, his body had been there, although obviously his mind had been elsewhere… perhaps, though, Mr. Marfuta’s physical presence is the best that we can hope for, even that being rather sporadic, and typically associated with the prospect of getting food).  Since Ms. Sy had also been at the last meeting, then, Mr. Marfuta had at least seen her (which, in his case, is probably enough to make a decision about whether or not he approved).  Mr. Marfuta suddenly remembered (and approved).  Therefore, with no objections, Ms. Sy was appointed Social Chair, her term beginning in two weeks time.

As for Mr. Vachharajani’s state of affairs… well, unsurprisingly, it was still “uncertain”… according to Mr. Vachharajani, there are 7 people in EE who are currently waiting for word about their status.  If he is, in fact, DCC, he will resign from the HC. Since this is rather likely, Mr. Vachharajani decided to appoint an elections Committee.  While no one eagerly volunteered, Mr. Vaccharjani managed to coerce Mr. Fiskiran, Mr. Marfuta, and possibly Mr. Girgis into “agreeing” to do the job.

Next came discussion of the Dean’s agenda.  Dean Russel had two items to discuss.  First, he wanted to know about the social program and, in particular, the high table format.  He thought that it might be nice to have the before and after receptions for the high table in Wyman house, rather than in Ms. Sherov’s rooms.  Ms. Sherov (rather too eagerly) agreed.  The only question, then, was whether or not this change in format would be acceptable to the House Historian (after all, if the undergraduates carefully preserve all of their ridiculous 150 year old traditions, shouldn’t grad students as well?)  Mr. Adelizzi was slightly confused, but was under the impression that, in the “old days”, the receptions were, in fact, held in Wyman House.

Having answered the question of “where?”, the next question was, of course, “who?”.  While several High Table dinners are well attended, many turn out to be “embarrassing”.  According to Ms. Sherov, if you want to make a High Table successful, you need to find a speaker who is either 1.)  a Nobel Laureate (ala Dr. Nash) or 2.) controversial (ala Peter Singer)  There was some agreement amongst the HC that publicizing the reputation of the invited guests might help attendance.  Ms. Bewick suggested sending extra emails about High Tables to grad students in departments that were related to the field of interest of the speaker.  Ms. Sherov told Ms. Bewick that she had already tried to do that, but that it hadn’t helped much.  Some people felt that putting short biographies about the guests on the tables in the Dining Hall might also help.  Ms. Nguyen also mentioned two problems with the High Table.  First, some people sit too far away from the guest, and thus end up feeling completely left out of the conversation… as a result, many people would rather just eat dinner with their friends (it is hard to see how this is a problem when only 3 graduate students show up for a High Table Dinner in the first place, but the point is well-made, all the same).  Second, Ms. Nguyen mentioned that the High Table seems very inaccessible and intimidating… in fact, many graduate students don’t even know that they can sign up to attend.  As a result, she suggested publicizing the High Table, particularly to new first years.

The second issue that Dean Russel wanted to discuss was the prospect of inviting small groups of graduate students over for dinner.  Dean Russel wasn’t exactly sure how to select groups.  Someone suggested inviting people over by entryway, since this might help to foster a sense of community – Ms. Sherov had tried to organize dinners at which people sat according to entryway, but this had turned out to be rather unfavorably received.  Scrumptious food at Wyman House, however, might help to make the idea more palatable (no pun intended).  Another suggestion was that Dean Russel and his wife go to the GC Dining Hall and, at random, sit with a group of students.  After eating with them and getting to know them, it might be good to ask them over for dinner.  Ms. Sherov suggested face-to-face invites, since these are not so easy to “forget” as emailed invites.

Dean Russel then mentioned that he was also fairly skeptical about attendance at these dinners, especially given the poor attendance at the recent ice cream social held at Wyman House.  Ms. Sherov told Mr. Russel that she had sent an email to GC residents, but that next time, she would send an email to the entire graduate student body.  In addition, someone suggested that the poor attendance might have been because people couldn’t “see” the ice cream social.  Ice cream socials held in plain view in the GC courtyard are usually well attended… but as the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind”.  Dean Russel was hesitant about sending an email to the entire graduate student body… at the last ice cream social, he had had approximately 25 students… he had hoped for about 100, but 300 would be far too many.  Ms. Sherov promised to increase advertising efforts for the next ice cream social.

The next item of business was cleaning up the GC, and the major maintenance list – in particular, of course, the Social Lounge.  Mr. Adelizzi and Mr. Vachharjani recounted the story of the aborted attempt to renovate the Social Lounge, hoping that Dean Russel would be excited to follow up and help to fix up the Social Lounge area.

Next, Mr. Vachharajani felt the need to bring up hard wood flooring and the Coffeehouse.  Dean Russel told Mr. Vachharajani that the Coffehouse plans were pretty much a “done deal” – ie.  no hardwood flooring.  Sorry Mr. Vachharjani.  

Slightly miffed but, all the same, maintaining his sense of pride, Mr. Vachharajani mentioned the Eisenhart gate and how a large truck had gotten stuck in it, damaging the stonework.  As well, he told Dean Russel that it might be nice to clean the stained glass in Proctor Hall because, at the moment, it is stained stained glass.  As well, he mentioned that the furniture in the GC Common Room is in rough shape, and that there is some damage to the stonework outside Proctor Hall.

While on the topic of the “Major Maintenance Whine List”, Ms. Man felt that she should fight to upgrade her living space as well… that being the annexes.  Ms. Man argued that the annexes get a rough deal.  There are 80 people living in the annexes, compared to the 450 in the GC, but that said, most of them never see any benefit from their house dues.  Ms. Man felt that the HC should look into improving the living space in the annexes as well.  In particular, she would like to see an improvement in the kitchens, which are not insulated, and get very hot in the summer.  She would like fans installed in the kitchen and the laundry rooms.  Furthermore, the laundry rooms in the annexes are in a “state of disrepair”  

According to Ms. Sherov, she fights hard for both the GC and the annexes but, unfortunately, she does not have the same power as the undergraduate Masters.  Dean Russel mentioned that the state of the GC and the annexes was improving.  Everyone agreed.  Ms. Sherov thanked Mr. Russel for showing such concern. She stated that both the Residence Life Coordinator and the House Committee share the function of liaising with Housing on maintenance issues and she mentioned the hard work of Mr. Silberman and former House Committee Chair Mr. Adrian Banner  in working to improve graduate student living conditions.

Thus ended the meeting with the Dean.  The rest of the meeting was only attended by HC members and concerned residents/non-residents.  Mr. Fiskiran had nothing much to report.  He has decided to leave the broken pool table where it is.  Ms. Man told the Committee that the Coffeehouse is now open from Sunday through Thursday and that, while this information was not included in last weeks email from Ms. Sherov, it would be included the following week.  Opening the Coffehouse for the rest of the summer will cost approximately $1200.

Mr. Marfuta reported for both Bar Czars (Ms. Nguyen having disappeared shortly after dinner).  Since Ms. Nguyen is disappearing for good at the beginning of August, a new Bar Czar must be found.  Mr. Marfuta told the HC that his roommate, Mr. Tim Gray was interested in the position.  He also reported that there would be a concert on the second Saturday after registration involving bands from Boston and New York.  The Elections Committee appointed earlier in the meeting was also charged with running this election.

The Social Chairs had very little to report.  Social Hour will be on Thursday.  Ms. Man took up her annexes crusade again, asking that more social events be organized at the annexes (because the walk from the annexes to the GC is just SO far… particularly in the summer because it is very hot, and in the winter, because it is very cold, and in the spring and fall just because).  Mr. Vachharajani suggested publicizing GC events to annex residents.  It was decided that the Grad Student Guide will be distributed to annex residents this year – hopefully this should help to inform annex residents about GC activities.  Mr. Girgis then told the HC that the T-shirts were going to arrive at the end of the week, and that it cost a total of $20 to get them delivered.  He also told the Committee that the shirts could have been delivered for free had the HC asked when the shirts were ordered… for some strange reason, Mr. Gastanaga turned down the free delivery.

As well, Mr. Girgis told the HC that the pizza party had gone well, but that very few members of the HC had shown up “on-time” to help.  He asked that in the future, people commit to being present for set-up or clean-up, and then show up on time.  As well, Mr. Girgis mentioned that he and Ms. Sherov had been involved in ordering the pizza, drinks, talbes, etc. this month, but that either Ms. Guha or Ms. Sy would have to do it the following month.

Next, Mr. Girgis magically transformed from Social Chair to Treasurer, reporting that there was a $9000 surplus.  Ms. Bewick requested an increased budget for the Guide… especially in light of the new policy to distribute Guides to annex residents.  Someone then suggested spending a bit of the surplus to buy a program which will allow for double entry accounting.  Mr. Fiskiran was adamant that he could make Money do Double Entry accounting.  Mr. Bufetov, of course, had been adamant that he couldn’t.  Of course, Mr. Bufetov had also been adamant that he could not be more organized with respect to his bookkeeping… hopefully, Mr. Bufetov slightly over-exaggerates when applying the word “impossible”.  Mr. Fiskiran offered to give Mr. Bufetov a tutorial.  

Mr. Adelizzi, pretending to be Mr. Silberman, gave the Assistant Chair report, telling the HC that nothing had been done about the e-doors.  As well, Mr. Silberman is working on air-conditioning in at least several of the basement rooms.  Mr. Vachharajani, pretending to be himself, told the HC that he had sent a letter to Mr. Stu Orfice, but that that was all he had done over the past 2 weeks.  Mr. Adelizzi asked Mr. Vachharajani about the meeting involving the Dean and post-enrollment.  Mr. Vachharajani insisted that he had not agreed to chair any such sub-committee.  The issue needs to be further examined.

Final items of business included some discussion about canceling cable and how OIT claims to have cancelled it, but is still billing the HC for it.

The HA had little to add to the officer reports.  Mr. Girgis had cleaned the fridges.  Ms. Sherov told the HC that Ms. Anita Adhitya was not returning, thus Mr. Adelizzi would be HA for August, and that a new HA would be appointed in September.

Emailed Report from the HA/Assistant Chair

HOUSE ADVISOR REPORT
July 21, 2003
Eric Adelizzi

I Events Completed

1. Ice Cream Social on Thursday, July 10 - marred by bad weather,
           but attracted perhaps 75 people.
2. In addition, I provided assistance at the 2nd Summer Pizza
           Party.

II Events Continuing

1. Tuesday Bagel Breakfasts
2. James Bond Movie Series, to be followed by other films in
         August
3. Friday BYOF BBQs

III Events Upcoming

1. Second Ice Cream Social August 27 (Grad School and GSG
         co-sponsored)
2. The Longwood Gardens trip, originally scheduled for tomorrow,
           has been canceled due to lack of interest.  We may try again
           in August.

IV Other Remarks

I sent these remarks to the House Committee regarding the proposed
relocation of the basketball court.  I am including them in my report as
the easiest way of adding them to the official record.  Location 1 is
just below the current court and Location 2 is below the far end of the
parking lot.  (I have silently corrected some typos.)

Is there any reason why we would want to basketball court to
remain where it is?  I agree that location #2 is too far away, but
I consider location #1 a definite improvement.  Here are the
benefits I see from moving the court:

1. Our parking lot will be reconfigured so we have a loop again
in the upper part of the lot -- no more driving in and then having
to back out if there are no spaces, which is a pain and marginally
more dangerous than a loop.

2. Our basketball hoops will no longer be in the way of
Catering's trucks.  Catering has been good about not smashing into
the backboards recently, but they did so about 3-4 years ago and I
seem to recall it took us the better park of a year to get them
replaced.  Our hoops should be removed from the traffic flow.
(Further, that area has been opened to parking at Reunions and
then we lose the usage of the court.  There is (still!) a large
-- what do you call it?  back of a truck -- sitting there, barely
off the court.)

3. Dean Russel's family would like to see the court moved
slightly further away from Wyman House, since the noise of
basketball games is pretty loud.  We didn't hear this complaint
when Dean Wilson was in office, because he didn't live at Wyman
House, but I recall reading in the old House Committee archives
that Dean Ziolkowski used to complain about the noise from the
basketball court.  This is a long-standing issue.

4. Basketball games would no longer be played right in the middle
of the route from the lot to the Old GC -- presently, games have
to stop for passersby or passersby have to dodge their way through
the court.

The inconvenience of having the court 50' further away from the
GC isn't very much, and may be made up for by the slightly closer
parking.  (Both are very minor effects.)

If we can get them to construct some sort of barrier between the
court and the lot -- perhaps a low wall and row of trees -- the
risk of damage to cars from balls will be lowered ... .

I cannot agree with the idea that the HC should oppose such a
good plan.  I also cannot see why the University has made it a
priority.  It seems to me to be a complete waste of money to
relocate a recently resurfaced and repaired basketball court 50'
so that parking can be expanded in what is probably one of only 3
lots (with Lot 21 and the lot next to the garage) that are
currently undersubscribed.  Much better uses could be imagined for
these funds.

I suspect that the University is attempting to construct new parking
wherever possible right now, since adding parking is always a
controversial problem that must go through the planning board.
The University is actively reviewing the parking mess on campus
and looking to see where it can construct new parking cheaply and
without drawing the ire of the town.  The GC is one such location.
Our basketball court was originally a parking lot, so, as I
understand it, no zoning change is required to make it a lot
again.  The University will need planning permission to construct
a basketball court, but it is unlikely that this will be
controversial.

As for the parking spots created, they may not be for grad
students.  If you will recall, up to about 2 years ago, a few
dozen undergraduates were assigned to park at the GC.  They were
removed at the House Committee's request when GC density was
increased and (I seem to recall) Lockhart residents were assigned
to Lot 19.  Perhaps the University wants to do this again.  (Don't
panic!  They were assigned spaces at the far end of the lot,
spaces that are now almost never used.)

Anyway, that's my opinion on the subject.  I doubt that we can
convince the University to use the money for something else, since
that's not the way things work around here ... .

HOUSE HISTORIAN REPORT
July 21, 2003
Eric Adelizzi

I Records Digitalization Initiative

Since College Secretary Jaclyn Wasneski has been kindly typing the old
minutes at a rate of a few sets a week, we now have almost the entire
1966-67 set on-line.  We are progressing forward in time until 1972.

II Post of House Historian

Since I will be leaving the GC in the near future, I would suggest that
the Committee should start looking for a new House Historian.  It took the
Committee about 80 years to replace my predecessor, so the sooner it
starts this time, the better.

ACTING ASSISTANT CHAIR REPORT
July 21, 2003
Eric Adelizzi, acting for Lior Silberman

I have no report this week as Acting Assistant Chair.  I will try to look
into some of the renovations projects that are scheduled but have not been
completed, such as the e-doors and the air conditioning for the basement
common spaces.  Housing will soon be working on changing the draw
procedures to be more coherent and fair.

(Mr. Silberman’s Addition)

A/C will be put in the social lounge. No ducts -- wall units with outside
condensers. Work will not require closing the lounge. No date for start of
work yet.

As to TV room, only possible solution is to run a pipe from a condenser in
the kitchen courtyard to a wall unit in the room. That's at the limit of
possible pipe length, and so exact measurements are required. This will be
investigated after the lounge work is completed.

Mr. Parrish, a concerned resident, was told to call 8000 to get his screen replaced.  The meeting finished at 9:30.  The next meeting will be in 2 weeks.  Same bat time, different bat place (Coffeehouse).

Respectfully submitted by,

Sharon Bewick
HC Secretary