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
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
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
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
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
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
|| 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
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
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
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
||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