It may not be Spring Break, but this week, graduate students are certainly welcoming the first annual Graduate Student Appreciation Week.

The Graduate Division is hosting the weeklong event, which started on Monday and will continue through Friday. The week will include movie nights, stress management workshops and free massages. The event will culminate with a graduate student social and barbecue Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Goleta Beach. Administrators and faculty are also invited to take part in the festivities. Cynthia Hudley, associate dean of graduates and a professor of education, said graduate students are valuable resources at UCSB.

“Graduate students do so much to further the mission of the university including providing important assistance with teaching and faculty research,” Hudley said. “For many faculty, it would be difficult if not impossible to do our research without the assistance of graduate students.”

Emma Flores, a Graduate Division staff member who helped organize the week’s events, said the celebration is a nationwide event hosted by the National Graduate and Professional Student Association.

Undergraduates can recognize teaching assistants and research assistants by purchasing $1 candy grams, which are being sold from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the Arbor until Wednesday. The candy is delivered directly to the TAs or RAs on behalf of the student, and half of the proceeds go to the graduate student organization, Flores said.

She said she hopes to make the celebration a tradition.

“I’m hoping this becomes an annual tradition on campus and that it will continue to grow, expand and become a part of our culture at UCSB,” Flores said.

Graduate students are often underappreciated and neglected, Flores said. She said they usually grade exams, facilitate study groups and teach class directly. They also teach at the undergraduate, graduate and master’s level, while other graduate students are research assistants, she said.

“It’s nice to be able to recognize what grads go through and find a way to honor the contributions that they make,” she said.

Flores also said graduate students are an extremely diverse population because some of them work other jobs, raise families or live outside of Isla Vista or downtown Santa Barbara.

Kim Goto, a diversity peer advisor for the Graduate Division, said graduate students also act as representatives on university committees and councils.

“We bring with us diversity among backgrounds, both academically and non-academically, that add to the richness of the overall campus experience,” Goto said. “It is the hope of the [Graduate Student] Planning Committee that all faculty will take the time this week to appreciate their own graduate students.”

Daisy Lemus, a graduate student and teaching assistant for Communication 88, said she thinks the Appreciation Week is a great idea. She also said she wishes the university would more often recognize graduates’ work and contributions.

“Graduate students are underappreciated,” Lemus said. “If [the Appreciation Week] kept going, it would change this more and more.”

The Graduate Division held a reception at the Faculty Club two years ago that was designed to recognize all graduates that received fellowships from the department, Flores said. A committee of graduate students approached the Graduate Division this year and asked it to hold another reception.

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