The Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) wants to hear from students across the university’s campuses this year as it considers its strategic plan.

“We’re taking a second to pause and lay out our mission,” said GSA President Alex Hyler. “We are asking how we fit the university’s mission. How do we better serve graduate students? What areas can we step in and fill?”

Hyler said graduate students hold the answers to those questions, so the GSA plans to host focus groups and town-hall style gatherings over the course of the year to gather ideas and feedback.

GSA board members also want to make sure the university offers a welcoming environment for international students, she added.

One of the key goals is connecting graduate students across the university’s campuses. Graduate students attend programs in Roanoke, Richmond, and the National Capital Region in addition to Blacksburg. Hyler said the GSA is helping NCR and Roanoke students to attend an October Hokie football game at Lane Stadium and other gatherings where students from different campuses can get to know one another and share experiences and concerns.

The GSA is expanding its cap-and-gown loan program, which was established a few years ago and has been popular with graduates.

The assembly’s monthly delegate meetings will be different this year, too, Hyler said. “We’re passing the power back to the delegates and facilitating more open floor discussions.”

The first delegate meeting is at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the Graduate Life Center’s multipurpose room. All interested graduate students are welcome to attend, Hyler said.

The GSA has an active presence on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Graduate students should watch those news feeds for information about upcoming social events and other programs planned for the year.