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Get Involved in the Graduate Student Community with GAPSA


March 25, 2016

By Kate Shaw

The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA) is George Mason University’s primary association for graduate student advocacy and for students to come together as part of a graduate community. The central purpose of GAPSA is to create a forum through which graduate students can address issues that affect the graduate student population at the university.

In partnerships with other university units or student groups, GAPSA often takes part in a number of events, including Welcome Week activities such as Gradstravaganza, happy hours near each of the campuses, Mason Lobbies, educational workshops, and other events that allow graduate students to socialize with one another. All graduate and professional students at Mason are eligible to become part of GAPSA.

In the coming weeks, GAPSA will be holding elections for its Executive Board for the 2016-2017 academic year. The positions available are:

  • President (1 position): The president’s role is to oversee all aspects and activities for GAPSA. The president presides over and sets the agenda for all GAPSA meetings, and is responsible for setting meeting times on a regular basis. Additionally, the president works with outside units (i.e., Graduate Student Life), to coordinate GAPSA initiatives. The president also is responsible for visiting Board of Visitor meetings as well as other committee meetings related to Mason graduate and professional student interests.
  • Vice Presidents of the Fairfax, Arlington, and SciTech campuses (3 positions): The vice presidents of each campus are responsible for meeting with other members of the GAPSA Executive Board, as well as the Director of Graduate Student Life, representatives of University Life, and other university units on a regular basis. The vice presidents also play integral roles in coordinating GAPSA events and initiatives, both on their respective campuses as well as larger initiatives involving all graduate students.
  • Director of Communication (1 position): The Director of Communication is responsible for recording the minutes at GAPSA meetings and for all other communication aspects of the association, including managing the GAPSA email and webpage.

All graduate students in good standing, including part-time and non-degree students, are eligible to run for office. Students interested in running for an officer position should review the Election Packet available here, which includes more detailed descriptions of each position, as well as instructions on how to apply. Applications are now available and are due Friday, April 8, 2016. The election will take place from April 12-14, and results will be announced April 18. For more information on how to apply, contact Julie Choe Kim at ychoekim@gmu.edu.

GAPSA is an excellent channel through which Mason graduate students can become further connected with the campus. Don’t miss this opportunity to get involved and make your voice heard!

Kate Shaw is GAPSA’s director of communication.

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Graduate Student on a Budget: Low- or No-Cost Activities for Mason Students this Spring

March 18, 2016

By Kelly Pedersen

Graduate students often joke about their lack of funds for leisure activities. Although many students work outside of class time or live on stipends, budgeting while getting an education can be difficult. If finding money for fun means resorting to ramen for dinner, check out the free or low-cost activities for Mason graduate students to participate in this spring.

Within George Mason

Mason Recreation provides programming and support for outdoor enthusiasts and those interested in learning more about outdoor recreation through the new Center for Outdoor Experiential Education located at Skyline Fitness Center on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. Learn skills related to rock climbing, hiking, camping, bikepacking, and more!

Learn from well-trained SSI Instructors the proper knowledge and skills required for your underwater experience. No equipment necessary, all equipment is included for you to try Scuba. Bring your swim suit and towel and you’re ready to go! Only $25 for students.

This spring Mason has men’s, women’s, and co-ed leagues in soccer, slow-pitch softball, and flag football.

All currently enrolled students at George Mason University are provided FREE tickets to Mason athletic events including men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, and swim and dive meets.

The following sports are free of charge for all attendees:  Cross Country, Golf, Swim & Dive (excluding Patriot Invite), Tennis, Track & Field, Wrestling, Women’s Lacrosse, Rowing, Softball.

The Center for the Arts is the centerpiece of performing arts on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. Each year, the Center welcomes hundreds of thousands of community members into its 2000-seat Concert Hall for performances by renowned professional artists, accomplished faculty, and emerging student artists. Great Performances at Mason, an annual season of national and international artists, features the best of classical music, opera, jazz, world music, dance, theater, global music and dance, and more. As a part of George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Center hosts many student and faculty performances presented by the Schools of MusicTheater, and Dance. The Center for the Arts is also the performing home for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.

For most performances, GMU students can pick up 2 free tickets in person at the Center for the Arts Ticket Office beginning on Tuesday of the week prior to the week of the event.

The Corner Pocket, located in The Hub, is a place where the Mason community can gather to relax and have fun together. Challenge your roommate to a foosball game, play your favorite video game with your professor, or bring a date to play pool. Corner Pocket has something for everyone. Reserve games for under $5 an hour.

March 25- April 1

This year’s week-long celebration of LGBTQ lives and communities is filled with over 18 events hosted by our partners from Women and Gender Studies, Housing and Residence Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Wellness, Alcohol, and Violences Education and Services (WAVES), Pride Alliance, Lambda Alumni Chapter, Mason DREAMers, Phi lota Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Mason LGBTQ Faculty/Staff Alliance, Modern & Classical languages, Student Involvement/Patriot Activities Council, Mason Recreation, and more!

May 4-11

DeStress Fest is an annual tradition where several offices from across campus get together to provide fun, STRESS free events before Finals Week kicks in. We hope this provides you with opportunities to relax and have fun before the end of the semester.

Greater Washington D.C. Area

Watch the National Zoo’s conservation efforts firsthand along the Asia Trail. Pay a visit to giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian – and of course, their new adorable offspring, Bao Bao – and take a peek at their tiny neighbors, the red pandas.

See the stars in Rock Creek Park at the only planetarium operated by the National Park Service. Tours of the night sky are free

Walk among living butterflies at the National Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Pavilion ($6 for adults, $5 for children). Tuesdays are free, but timed-entry tickets are required. They are available at the Butterfly Pavilion box office beginning at 10 a.m. every Tuesday.

Washington, DC showcases its thousands of blossoming cherry trees with its annual two-week, city-wide event featuring more than 200 international cultural performances and over 90 other special events. Among the most popular events are the Blossom Kite Festival, the National Cherry Blossom Parade and the Japanese Street Festival. (March – April)

On International Pillow Fight Day, massive pillow fights breakout in cities around the world.
Date and Time: April 2, 2016, 2 p.m.
Location: National Mall, Washington Monument Grounds
Note: No Down Pillows, they make too much mess!

  • Mason at the Washington Nationals: The Nats take on the Twins

April 24, 2016, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Come out and root on the Nats!  Who doesn’t want to join the frenzy of fans with Nat-itude? The Office of Student Involvement at George Mason University is offering 96 tickets available, first come-first served. Seating is located in section 418. Price: $15 and includes a $5 voucher to use toward food or drink. Tickets go on sale Monday, February 29. Ticket buyers will have the option of picking up their tickets at the Office of Student Involvement located in the Hub.

May 9, 2015, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. More than a thousand yoga enthusiasts and first-timers will gather to practice on the Mall at Constitution Gardens, near the Vietnam Memorial. The closest Metro Station is Foggy Bottom.

April 16-17, 2016, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Arlington Festival of the Arts returns in the spring of 2016 as Highland Street in the Clarendon District of Arlington, Virginia will be transformed into a two-day juried outdoor art gallery style art exhibit. The artwork will be for sale with prices set to suit all budgets, with items ranging from $25 hand-designed earrings to $50,000 metal sculptures. Festival patrons can expect to see bold and vibrant paintings, contemporary and whimsical art, life-size sculptures, photography, handcrafted jewelry and much more. Admission to the art show is free and open to the public.

The Kennedy Center Millenium Stage offers free shows daily from a variety of performers, no tickets required.

May 22 – August 28, 2015, 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Jazz in the Garden takes place in the Sculpture Garden on the grounds of the National Gallery of Art every Friday evening. An eclectic mix of jazz is performed by top Washington-area artists. During jazz concerts, the Pavilion Café offers a special menu of creative American cuisine and refreshments. Alcoholic beverages may not be brought into the Sculpture Garden but may be purchased at the café. Admission is free.

Kelly Pedersen is a Graduate Assistant with University Life Arlington and masters candidate at the College of Visual and Performing Arts in the Arts Management program.

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Looking to Beat that Writer’s Block?

Human hand with pen writing document and crumpled paper on table


March 4, 2016
By Kate Shaw
Ask almost any graduate student, and they’ll tell you that writing is one of the most important aspects of their graduate studies. For some, it may also be the most challenging aspect of their studies. It can become difficult for many of us to defeat the twin demons of procrastination and writer’s block, and often writing at home or somewhere on campus may lead to loads of distractions.  So, what is a graduate student to do? That’s where write-ins come in. A write-in allows students to bring their projects, papers, laptops, and/or writing goals to a typically quiet space that allows for total concentration in a distraction-free, supportive, and accountable environment.
Graduate Student Life hosts a Write-In Day on the Fairfax campus once each semester. The rules are simple: come prepared to switch off the phone, abstain from Facebook and other social media, and concentrate on your writing for an entire day (well, at least from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) At the beginning of the day, students are given the opportunity to share their perspectives with each other on what writing habits work best for them and are also given the opportunity to share any goals for the day. Students are then assigned to rooms on campus to write for two 3-hour blocks, with a lunch in between. Students are often paired in a room with students who are working on similar projects. During the day, staff from Learning Services are also available for individual consultations on improving writing or time management techniques.
The next Write-in Day will be held on Saturday, April 9, 9:00am-5:30pm. Registration is free, but required, and closes Monday, March 28 at noon.  Spaces are limited to 30 participants, and all Mason graduate students are invited to register. Meals, snacks, and coffee will be provided. To register, visit the Write-In Day webpage.

In addition to the Graduate Student Life Write-In Day, the Writing Center, in partnership with Gateway Library, offers weekly write-ins during the semester for graduate students.  The write-ins are held on Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.  Like the Graduate Student Life Write-In Day, students who attend the Writing Center Write-Ins are committing to arriving on time and staying the duration of the time in order to fully accomplish their goals.  Students have the option of discussing their writing goals with a tutor and can attend as many sessions during a semester as they’d like. The Writing Center encourages students to sign up in advance, as the write-ins are a popular resource. Additionally, the Arlington library sponsors a weekly Friday morning writing group that is similar in structure to the Fairfax campus write-ins.  To find out more about the Arlington writing group, visit the Arlington Library Workshop page. The libraries also have group writing spaces available for reservation.

Writing is an essential, yet sometimes extremely difficult part of the graduate student experience. The good news is sometimes all you need is some time blocked off, a distraction-free environment, and the support of other writers. The better news is that whatever your writing needs may be, there’s a good chance that Mason has the resources you need to help you power through. To find out more about resources to help you improve your writing, contact the Writing Center, Learning Services, and/or University Libraries.

Kate Shaw is a graduate assistant for Graduate Student Life and a master’s student in the Higher Education program at George Mason University.