SAC works diligently to remove inequities and enhance quality of life for all DBBS graduate students. With that mission, we have accomplished many positive changes throughout the years. You can check them out below.
Per standard DBBS rules, students who receive a nationally competitive fellowships
(NSF, NRSA, AHA, etc.) receive 5000 dollars extra added onto their stipend.
Although a great opportunity for students to increase their stipends yearly and
elevate their career by receiving fellowships, many national fellowships that fulfill
the requirement to receive the stipend increase are for US citizens only. After long
discussions with executive council and the administration of DBBS, we worked to
create the International Student Fellowship (ISF). The ISF offers a 5000-dollar
support to students in their 3rd year of graduate training or upon completing their
thesis proposal. This fellowship will be awarded based on merit of the applicant, the
quality of their research proposal, and the tie to the DBBS mission of
interdisciplinary research. We are excited that international students will be able to
jump on this opportunity and are excited for our first appointments to be announced
This year to increase both transparency and communication between DBBS
administration and DBBS students, SAC leadership has created monthly town halls.
Town halls, which are run by students for the students, serve as a great way for us
to increase communication of ideas, problems, and solutions between DBBS
students and administration. Most importantly, these serve as a way for us to better
understand the issues that are important to DBBS students and discuss them in a
safe and supportive environment before addressing them with our administrators.
With themes that will circulate issues raised by students and special guests who we
believe can help prosper and elevate discussion, we hope these monthly meetings
help students feel comfortable bringing forward questions, comments, or concerns
about DBBS, and will aid us to better advocate on behalf of students to DBBS
Did you know that there’s more to self-care than bubble baths? To kick off Wellness
Week, Joel Dalton and Rosie Jones, who lead Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and
Student and Alumni Affairs, hosted their engaging event ‘Resiliency and Resistance:
Strategic Self-Care Skills.’ Attendees discussed how to care for themselves based on
their unique and dynamic needs and how to establish a routine of self-care to be
proactive rather than reactive. Self-care isn’t always glamorous (like paying taxes
on time), but it allows us to recenter our needs and create a sustainable lifestyle for
Exercise and movement can be tools of self-care. During Wellness Week, The
Collective STL hosted a virtual Unwind Yoga Session for students after the workday.
The instructor played relaxing music and guided attendees through a sequence of
poses to help stretch and release tension. Attendees were encouraged to move in a
way that felt good, including simplified poses, because movement does not have to
be challenging to be beneficial. Perhaps yoga could be a part of your relaxing night-
Building a community of support contributes to our self-care – and what better way
than a game night! We held a Game Night on Gather.Town, with many game
opportunities and lounge spots. The top games of the night were Codenames and
Draw Battle. Join next time to be the new champ!
To close Wellness Week, Connections and SAC streamed a seminar by Dr. Quinn
Tyminski about mental health and self-care for graduate students. Attendees
chatted about their own perspectives and strategies for self-care and the factors
that might make self-care more complicated. There is no one-size-fits-all for self-
care and mental health!
We conducted a survey in 2021 where we assessed the effects of inflation on the DBBS student community. We found that students had marked increases in expenses covering cost of living, utilities, and transportation. We then presented this data to the DBBS Executive Council in order to advocate for a stipend increase. In January of 2022, it was announced that the DBBS stipend was approved to increase by 6% during FY 2022-2023.
In collaboration with Connections, we hosted a Wellness Week in which students could sign up for guided meditation, discussions with mental health providers, workouts, game night, and a lecture by Dr. Quinn Tyminski on maintaining mental health. All students were also able to register for a free care package.
Following our DBBS Grad Student COVID-19 Survey and Results, which lead to numerous discussions with DBBS administration and them advancing the concerns to overhead stakeholders, Washington University in St. Louis implemented a one-time re-entry COVID-19 test for all graduate and professional students. While not what we initially aimed for, this shows the value of data in implementing forward progress.
In November of 2020, we informed the new Interim Associate Dean for DBBS that DBBS graduate students had not received a stipend increase since 2018. We showed that this left students with an income lower than the CPI and Standard of Living. On January 13th, 2021, after only 2 months since we brought it to their attention, DBBS has announced the increase in stipends of $2000 for Fiscal Year 2021-2022, increasing stipend from $30,500 to $32,500. SAC is proud to have initiated and collaborated with DBBS admin to accomplish this for DBBS graduate students.