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Responsibilities, Rights and Welfare of Graduate Student Academic Employees Committee
Summary: The committee remained focused on revising HOP 12.C.3 and 12.C.4 to clarify current policies concerning graduate student workers. Although the committee voted in favor of a new exception that has been implemented in the Office of Graduate Studies, further action was suspended for several reasons (see item 1 below). Other issues that came up during the year included TA evaluations (item 2), the University’s legal liability for TAs who begin working before the contractual start dates of September 1 and January 16 (item 3), and the committee’s responsibilities regarding undergraduate workers (see item 4).
Graduate Student Workers: Last year, suggested revisions to HOP 12.C.3 and 12.C.4 (now HOP 9-2030) met with some resistance from faculty who were dissatisfied with current policies that create hardships for units in low budget situations. We learned from Terry Kahn, associate dean in the Office of Graduate Studies, that an exception has been implemented that allows GRA appointments, “not to exceed 2,500 dollars and not to exceed 80 total hours, without registration” in the summer or at a “reduced minimum registration” of six hours during the long term in such cases. The Office of Graduate Studies treats these cases as an exception, rather than a policy. For this reason and because dollar amounts may change over time, no further action is required at this time. The committee may want to consider submitting an explanation of the exception along with new wording for the graduate portions of HOP 9-2030 if it decides to resubmit revisions in the future since the exception addresses the issues raised by dissenting faculty and may thus help the measure pass. Amy Greenspan, student employer coordinator, noted that it might be best to table all revisions for the present given that further changes involving health insurance may be required in the near future. Addressing all changes at the same time might be more efficient.
TA Evaluations: Eugenio (Jay) Santillan (representative, Graduate Student Assembly) raised a question regarding the legality of TA evaluations in the RTF department. The chair made inquiries, but was unable to receive confirmation either way. The committee may wish to seek further clarification from the office of legal affairs.
Legal Liability for TAs who begin working before official employment start dates: Brian Evans brought an issue involving TA appointments to the attention of the chair and vice-chair of the C-12 committee. Classes routinely begin before the official start dates of September 1 and January 16. This raises a question about insurance coverage. Are TAs covered when they begin working or is coverage delayed? The chair made inquiries, but no information has been forthcoming.
Mission, Charge, and Committee Name: A concomitant issue that emerged during the 2011-12 academic year involving the committee’s charge remains unresolved. Although the committee is specifically charged with addressing the rights and welfare of graduate student academic employees, issues involving undergraduate student employees have also routinely been discussed. The committee may therefore wish to consider submitting a recommendation to the Faculty Council to amend its mission, charge, and name to include undergraduate student employees. With respect to future revisions to the HOP, Andrea Gore has suggested that it might be best to separate HOP policies into two categories, one for graduate students and one for undergraduate students.
Edward Pearsall, chair