Rebecca Liudzius, graduate affairs administrator and a BU COM alumna, shares with the COMmunicator the purpose of the COM Graduate Council and the student-planned events for mass communication, PR, and advertising graduate students.
Can you tell me a little bit about your role as the graduate affairs administrator?
My main role is doing outreach to prospective students and informing them about COM admission information. I also plan admission events as well as current students events.
Setting up the Graduate Student Council was a big part of your role. Why do you think there is a need for a graduate student council?
At the Office of Graduate Affairs, we try to plan events for students. Some have been very successful, but some have not been popular at all. We think it is pretty obvious that if students have a say in planning events, more people would be interested and excited about participating.
The first phase of the council involved having students help us plan social events for the semester. But eventually, we want the council to act as the voice of the student body, liaising between the students and graduate affairs so that we know what your concerns are and what problems or ideas you have. We never really had a facilitated way of doing that before, so the council will really help us understand how to make your experiences at COM the best that they can be.
What kind of events does the Graduate Student Council host for students?
A lot of our events are social events, like Paint Nite, apple picking, or going to a Red Sox game, which students really enjoy. As the council matures a bit more, we are also thinking about moving to more academic events as well. For example, one of the ideas that came up in our meeting was going to a public event at the M.I.T. media lab. We are very open to making this into whatever the students want it to be.
Is this the council’s first semester?
Yes. Technically the council was implemented in Fall 2016, but events in the fall semester were mainly planned by the graduate affairs staff. Starting this semester, events were planned in conjunction with students.
How many students are currently on the council?
It fluctuates a little bit. Right now, we have about 10 to 15 students that come to at least one of our meetings. Getting a consistent group of people to come has been challenging because graduate students are typically very busy. We are still working on the best ways to involve as many students as possible. We send out our meeting minutes to students who expressed interest in helping us plan events. We are also advertising the council to students who have been accepted and confirmed their attendance for fall 2017 so that they’ll know right off the bat that this is something that they can join.
How hard is it to plan an event for graduate students?
Getting an idea of what students want to do is always the most challenging part. But once ideas come in, we just coordinate with the involved parties and businesses to make things happen. It’s super helpful having students involved in the planning process. They become the first point of contact with businesses and then report back to me with progress. It’s definitely made my job a lot easier.
How do you think mass communication, PR, and advertising students can contribute their skills to the council?
PR students who are interested in event planning would definitely be able to use those skills if they joined the council. As the council progresses, we may do more advertising on social media so advertising students could be able to use their expertise and design skills in that area. I think MC/PR/ADV students are great in general when it comes to getting the word out about events since they’re our biggest department. They should have a good pulse on what the student body as a whole is looking for and would be great representatives.
What Students Say:
“I helped set up Paint Nite, which was held on March 24. The tickets sold out in an hour-and-a-half. Everyone had a wonderful time at the event and it was an overall success. Personally, I had a lot of fun socializing with other graduate students I would not have had the chance to meet otherwise. Everyone was relaxed and it was almost therapeutic after the tiring week we had had. As someone who is interested in PR and marketing, this was a great first step towards a real-world experience.”
Harshitha Ashok, Communication Studies Graduate Program
“While the Mass Communication major is great and I love the flexibility, sometimes I don’t think we have the same sense of community that other COM programs have – our classes and schedules vary, we have different prerequisites, and we often don’t have the same out-of-class opportunities that other programs seem to have. These Graduate Student Council events are great for getting us all together outside of a school setting to decompress and unwind. They’re a great way to encourage a sense of community between all programs by enabling us to bond over food and activity.”
Megan Libby, Communication Studies Graduate Program
Anh Vo, Staff Writer
Anh Vo was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She is passionate about using the tools of communication to bring about social change in developing countries. Aside from being a full-time student, Anh also works with a foundation called Build-a-Bridge, based in Vietnam. Anh is a communication studies major at BU, seeking the knowledge and skills to continue pursuing her passion.