An attempt by the GSA to secure a postgraduate common room is in full swing, with the Deputy President (Graduate Students) Shama Rahman putting in a space request for the Ante Room in Sherfield.
The idea of a postgraduate common room surfaced last year, after it was suggested to then DPGS Luis Hui. The Senior Common Room is open to staff and research students, however taught postgraduates are not allowed in and must use the Junior Common Room instead. Taught masters students expressed a desire for access to the SCR, which was denied due to the current space constraints.
No consensus could be reached when the issue was discussed at Union Council in November, however research postgrads wanted assurances that they would not be thrown out of the SCR, as having a place to network with their research group was vital to their research activities. Students on doctoral research programmes have far more in common with members of staff than undergraduates or taught masters students.
Of particular concern is the issue of segregation and where you draw the line. The argument for taught PGs not using the JCR is essentially one of age - masters students are older than undergraduates, although many are the same age as 4th year students who would be excluded from the proposed PG common room. Mature students on undergraduate degrees would also be banned, despite being older than most of their classmates.
More worrying is that the space request appears to have no authorisation from anyone except the DPGS herself: neither the ICU President nor the Union General Manager have signed the document, however a number of items are listed under the "financial consequences" section. If the space is transferred to Union control, the Union would be responsible for any changes, including installation of "a transparent partition to provide a corridor to the MDH", repainting and conversion of the bar. Quite where this money would come from is unknown - neither exec nor council have approved any expenditure and the GSA has so far failed to attract additional sponsorship from College for its events this year.