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C-12
Committee on Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of
Graduate Student Academic Employees


During the 2004-05 academic year, the Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees reviewed several issues with regards to the title and function of the committee; the composition of the committee; grievance procedures for graduate students; recommended practices for selection, supervision, and evaluation of TAs; and issues with regards to support of GRAs. Work done by the committee on these issues is detailed below.

Change in title and function of the committee.
Following through with an initiative started last academic year, the committee submitted a motion to the Faculty Council to change the function of the committee to include all graduate student academic employees, not just teaching assistants and assistant instructors. The primary motivation for this was the recognition that no University standing committee, nor Graduate Assembly committee, was given charge to review the responsibilities, rights, and welfare of graduate research assistants. Since the responsibilities, rights, and welfare issues for graduate research assistants are often similar, if not the same, as those for teaching assistants, the inclusion of graduate research assistants was considered appropriate for this committee. Consistent with the change in function, the title of the committee was changed to Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees.

This motion was submitted to the Faculty Council during the November 2004 meeting. During this meeting there was a discussion of the appropriate change in title for the committee. Discussions with Associate Deans Terry Kahn and John Dollard after the meeting led to the title listed above. The motion was voted on during the January 2005 meeting of the Faculty Council and passed. The change in function and title was approved by President Faulkner and Executive Vice President and Provost Ekland-Olson on February 21, 2005.

Review of grievance procedures for graduate students.
The committee received a request from Erik Malmberg, co-chair of the Graduate Student Assembly, to review whether there were contradicting guidelines in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) with regards to the grievance procedures for graduate students. Mr. Malmberg submitted a note to Associate Dean John Dollard presenting his research of the various sections in the current HOP referring to grievance procedures for graduate students. This note was forwarded to our committee and the topic was discussed in detail during a committee meeting on November 29, 2004. Mr. Malmberg was invited to this meeting to present the concerns of the Graduate Student Assembly about the confusion over the grievance procedures for graduate students. One of the key issues was that there are no sections in the HOP that explicitly specify grievance procedures for graduate research assistants (GRAs). At the conclusion of this meeting, committee members decided that more information about the official grievance procedures for graduate students should be obtained through inquiries to Terry Kahn, associate dean of the Graduate School, and Dorothea Adams, associate vice president in the provost's office.

Associate Dean Dollard and Professor David Bogard made these inquires and ultimately received an "official ruling" from the graduate school and the provost's office. During this process, Professor Bogard communicated with Professor Janet Staiger, member of the Faculty Grievance Committee, who answered a host of questions about the current grievance procedures. The following is an outline of the HOP sections that describe the grievance procedures for graduate students.

Grievance procedures are separated in terms of academic issues and job-related issues.
Grievances related to academic affairs for all graduate students are covered under the Revised HOP section 1.C.2.D.
Job-related grievances for TAs and AIs are specifically covered under HOP4.03. A change in wording for this section has been recommended by the Faculty Grievance Committee (through the past chair of the committee, Janet Staiger). The change in wording is being recommended to make this section more consistent with the section for faculty grievance procedures which was recently revised.
Job-related grievances for GRAs are not currently specifically addressed in the HOP, but the Graduate School and the provost's office agree that the procedures described for TAs and AIs in HOP 4.03 should also apply to GRAs.


As a consequence of our inquiries about vagueness of the HOP on the grievance procedures for GRAs, the past chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee, Janet Staiger was going to recommend revision of the language for HOP 4.03 to include GRAs by referring to "Graduate Student Academic Employees" rather than TAs and AIs.

This resolution of the concerns about the grievance procedures for graduate students was discussed at a committee meeting on March 25, 2005. This meeting was attended by Erik Malmberg, co-chair of the Graduate Student Assembly, and graduate student members of our committee. There was general agreement that the concerns about the grievance procedures for graduate students were addressed.

Change in wording for the HOP section 4.03
Our committee received the following request from the Professor Janet Staiger of the Faculty Grievance Committee:

“The Faculty Grievance Committee is nearly finished with our revisions to the faculty grievance policy (in HOP 3.18)--as you know from Monday's Faculty Council meeting. The HOP has had a parallel statement of the grievance policy for AIs and TAs in HOP 4.03 (within the sections on students in the HOP). We wish to bring HOP 4.03 into parallel language with HOP 3.18 at the March faculty meeting (when we pass, we hope, the last part of the revisions HOP 3.18).

Linda Reichl advised, and I agree with her, that we check with your standing committee about this in advance of the meeting.

All we want to do at this point is simply make the language the same so that we do not have different procedures for AI and TA employment grievances. It may be that somewhere down the line your committee (or even the grievance committee) might wish to argue for different grievance procedures; however, at least for the time being, the Grievance Committee would like to have the two grievance policies in sync.

Could you check with your committee and determine if anyone has any problems about this current goal? And, in doing so, alert them to our intentions so that we resolve any concerns prior to the March meeting? Technically, the language should be submitted to the General Faculty's secretary on March 7.”


This request was forwarded to members of our committee. The only concern that was expressed was that the description of graduate teaching assistants and assistant instructors be broadened to include graduate research assistants. Follow a recommendation by Associate Dean Dollard, this was addressed by changing references of teaching assistants and assistant instructors to graduate student academic employees.

A subsequent meeting was held attended by the chair of the Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees, Professor Bogard, the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee, Professor Susan Heinzelman, and members of the Faculty Grievance Committee, Professor Janet Staiger and Professor Lorenzo Sadun. The purpose of this meeting was to review the proposed changes to HOP section 4.03, with specific attention to areas where the relationship between faculty and administration is not exactly mirrored by the relationship between graduate students and their supervisors. This led to some questions about whether the final authority over graduate grievances from graduate students should be moved from the president and the Board of Regents (who are the final authority for the faculty) to the provost. This question was submitted to Patricia Ohlendorf, vice president for institutional relations and legal affairs. Ultimately the proposed changes in wording of the HOP section 4.03 was not finalized in time to be presented at the May Faculty Council meeting, and Professor Heinzelman indicated that it would be submitted in September 2005.

Response to Committee on Committees with respect to representation of staff and students on the Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees.
The Committee on Committees sent a list of three questions with regards to the appropriate composition of our committee. These questions were reviewed by our committee, and the responses that were transmitted to the Committee on Committees are listed below.

Question 1.  How many administrators (ex officio), faculty members, undergraduate students, graduate students, and staff members are currently members of your committee (including designated slots which may be temporarily unfilled)?
Response:  Seven faculty members and three graduate students.

Question 2.  How many administrators (ex officio), faculty members, undergraduate students, graduate students, and staff members does your committee feel would be most appropriate in order to conduct the business of your committee most effectively?
Response:  Currently Associate Dean John Dollard attends our meetings and is very active. We recommend that a Graduate School associate dean be officially designated as an ex officio member. There are currently no staff members on the committee, but it would be useful to have a staff member specifically designated to be a graduate coordinator. There are no undergraduates on the committee, and we do not see a need for an undergraduate given the function of the committee. There are three graduate students which appears to be a reasonable representation.

Question 3.  Should there be any additional specifications for committee membership, such as representation from particular academic areas or specialized areas of expertise, in addition to the number of members categorized by position in the University community?
Response:  Of the three graduate students on the committee, currently one is designated to be a TA, and one an AI. We recommend that the third be designated to be a GRA. If a staff member is added, this person should be designated to be a graduate coordinator.

Selection, Supervision, and Evaluation of TAs.
During the September 2004 meeting of the committee, there was a discussion of the processes used by different departments and colleges to select, supervise, and evaluate TAs. The purpose of this discussion was to determine whether there was a consistency in these processes across the University. We concluded that it would be worthwhile for the committee to compile a document listing the recommended practices for selection, supervision, and evaluation of TAs. As a first step towards this goal, documents listing TA selection, supervision, and/or evaluation procedure were obtained from the math department, the English department, and the chemistry and biochemistry department. No further work was done on this task. The committee recommends work continue on this task next year and that a document listing recommended practices for selection, supervision, and evaluation of TAs and AIs be compiled.

Concerns about support of Graduate Research Assistants
Our committee was approached by the co-chairs of the Research Policy Committee, Professors Alexandra Loukas and John Hasenbein, who asked to present two issues regarding support of GRAs. The issues brought to the committee are below:

whether graduate students who were serving as half-time research assistants on faculty grants were receiving either partial tuition reimbursement or were not receiving tuition reimbursement at all; and
2. whether it was a common practice among faculty to hire graduate student research assistants for 19 hours rather than 20 hours per week to possibly avoid paying health insurance and other fringe benefits.


These issues were not originally brought to our committee because the charge of the committee at the beginning of the academic year did not include GRAs. However, since the charge of our committee was changed during the year to include GRAs, the Research Policy Committee wanted to determine whether the issues should be handled by the Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees instead of the Research Policy Committee. In this meeting, we agreed that these issues should be addressed by the Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees. The co-chairs of the Research Policy Committee agreed to follow through on work they were doing in gathering information about these issues and then pass this information on to our committee. No further information was received by the end of the spring semester. We recommend that the Committee on the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees follow up on these issues next academic year.


David G. Bogard, chair