EGSS Meeting Minutes – 13 December 2012

In attendance: K. Elliott, N. Kaufman, S. Macfarlane, S. Macpherson, T. Personn, J. Witham, Z. Virani

1. Kevin updated those in attendance about the most recent department meeting (omitting things that had nothing to do with graduate students or the graduate program in general)

  • Digital Humanities was introduced as a major field examination for doctoral students;
  • The department is considering the introduction of a graduate certificate in professional writing;
  • Chris described the changes to the structure of doctoral candidacy exams;
  •  The department is restructuring some of their undergraduate courses, and it’s still unclear exactly how it would affect TAs, although some kind of change is expected. For example, there may be more TA opportunities, but that may have the inadvertent consequence of prolonging more valuable teaching experience for other graduate students. Funding is also a major concern; and
  • Chris and Arnold were thanked for their respective services (Chris because his term of being the graduate advisor ended and Arnold because he’s retiring).

2. Tim explained the changes to the candidacy exams: There will be five or six hours for the student to write the on-campus exam, as determined by their committee chair; it will be by a case-by-case basis because it’s too problematic to have an overarching general protocol set in stone. The Faculty of Graduate Studies is willing to change their rules for the English department against having an oral exam – so there is no conflict with what the English department is trying to do.

3. Everyone discussed possible changes to TAships within the department (how many are offered, how workload is affected, impact on finances and other teaching experiences, etc.). It is too difficult for the EGSS to take a position because there are still too many ambiguities.

4. Samantha discussed ideas for an upcoming graduate-student colloquiam: the tentative themes are American literature and posthumanism (papers and research interests outside of these themes will still be welcomed). Another colloquiam planned for later in the term with broader themes is tentatively planned.

5. Shaun nominated himself as the department’s union steward for the teacher union, merely as a way to help Daniel, Shaun’s expected successor in the role, transition when the time comes. The nominated passed.

6. Discussed possibility of canvassing graduate students for ideas about things for which we can fundraise for the graduate lounge.

7. Students have concerns with how FRENCH 300 was taught and structured, which many students took to fulfill their second-language requirement. Shaun drafted a letter of concern to the French department’s chair and will keep us updated.

8. Kevin, Shaun, and Tim drafted talking-point ideas for their upcoming meeting with Gary, as he is now the new graduate advisor and we want to present to him our concerns on behalf of the graduate student body.

  • How TAs would be affected with the department’s restructuring of some undergrad courses;
  • Issues with how the language requirement is framed and presented to graduate students; i.e., we are concerned not with how the language requirement is structured but how it is explained to graduate students;
  • Financial concerns;
  • Upcoming events, such as the annual graduate-student travel grant fundraiser
  • Discussion about the new coursework-only MA