The idea of establishing a Graduate Students Association at International University Bremen (now Jacobs University) was born late 2002 and the GSA itself was formally established in March 2003. As an academic, social, and cultural forum for the entire community of graduate students on and off campus, the GSA represents the diversity of academic disciplines and cultural backgrounds of its membership and works towards facilitating lively and fruitful communication between graduate students and undergraduates, faculty and administration at Jacbos. We aim to assist graduate students with settling in and hope to contribute to making their time at Jacobs an unforgettable experience.
In the few months of its existence, the GSA has already organised numerous academic and social events as well as parties for graduate students at Jacobs and will continue to do so in the years to come.
But let's start at the humble beginnings of it all...
In September 2002, the graduate students community experienced its first significant boost in numbers. Roughly 30 graduates from all over the world working in a variety of different academic fields began their work here on campus. As the graduate pioneers of IUB, we soon felt the need to establish ourselves. Many of us shared the same concerns, problems, and questions. In order to work more effectively on solving these issues, we decided to name one representative for each of the two schools as a spokesperson for the graduates in his or her school.
Soon, especially as the graduate community continued to grow (there are now nearly 550 students pursuing either a Master's degree or working towards a PhD), this relatively loose and informal structure was no longer sufficient. A more structured and effective organizational framework was needed. This marked the beginning of the GSA. We got together to draw up a Charta which was later ratified by a General Assembly of all graduate students. This Charta laid out the formal structure and working mechanisms of the GSA. The Executive Board consists of six positions (a Secretary General for each school or the Jacobs Center, resp., a Treasurer, a Secretary, and an Activities Coordinator). Furthermore, we regularly elect representatives of the GSA or the graduate community to various university committees and representative bodies.
Besides all achievements on a number of official issues, the GSA became an organization that provides graduate students at Jacobs with the opportunity to share both academic issues as well as free time with fellow graduates.
First of all we were happy to have established a proper place for social and cultural exchange in the Student Activities Centre. It was quite a challenge to make this place really our own considering the relatively short timeframe of only one month. Now the GSA organizes Coffee Breaks every Wednesday and Monday for every graduate student to drop by for some relaxation and socializing. During the last year we had several events (movie evenings, a game evening, chill out evenings, a jazz evening, an international evening, a "falling stars" evening, and so on).
Approximately once every two or three months the GSA organizes some bigger parties, devoted to different occasions (some of last year's events: April Fool's day, Walpurgis night, Christmas party). The biggest event of last year was the Official Opening Ceremony of the GSA rooms, the Annual GSA Reception. This party was planned as a cultural event with the main goal of showing people, cultures, and the international community behind the title "GSA". The idea and its realization were successful thanks to the people willing to share their international experience with others. Around ten representatives from different countries (Turkey, Bulgaria, Portugal, Belarus, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, China, Malaysia, and so on) introduced their national cuisine and music to the graduate community.
In the Fall semester, the GSA organised a Halloween Party and a campus-wide event called "Public Lecture: Advanced Course in Rock.", a party featuring mainly Britpop, Pop, Punk, Rock, Hard Rock, and Crossover music and a live performance of one of the many existing student band formations. The end of the calendar year was celebrated with our traditional Christmas Party, including a Secret Santa.
Open Graduate Students Conference
Academic exchange is another very important issue for the GSA. At the beginning of the Fall Semester 2003/04, the GSA held its first Open Graduate Students Conference. Over the course of two days, more than 15 graduate students from a variety of academic fields presented their research to the Jacobs community. The conference was ended with a large BBQ outside the GSA rooms.
The aim of this conference was to give the growing community of young researchers at Jacobs an opportunity to introduce themselves and their respective fields of research to the wider academic community at IUB. It also sparked off the now traditional GSA Graduate Colloquium which is held once every three to four weeks during regular semester times and aims to bring graduate students together from the different schools and disciplines to present and discuss their scholarly interests and work in progress.