General Assembly of the Council of Graduate Students
University of Minnesota
Mississippi Room, Coffman Memorial Union
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Minutes submitted by
Isaac Kamola (Vice President for Communications).
Minutes approved by executive committee.
5:00pm Food Served
“Resolution Concerning Program Closure” Update (Chris Pappas)
Another version of the resolution COGS passed last
month has passed the Senate and GAPSA and will also be taken up in the
John Troyer: I attendant one Vice Provost Tom Sullivan’s town
hall meetings where he announced that “no decisions has been
made yet” concerning which departments are up for closure. It looks
like the March Regents meeting is when they plan on announcing which
departments are slated for closing. At this time the list of departments
might become public.
Someone expressed concern about whether General College was up for closure
since it gets mentioned every time there is talk of program closures.
If so, COGS should take a stand against closing General College.
Britt Johnson: Sarah Kempner and Britt plan on meeting with Dean George
Green concerning the actions COGS is going to take regarding the resolution.
There is also plan to do an interview with the Daily. The ultimate goal
is to have a talk with Provost Sullivan regarding COGS’ stance
on program closing.
GAPSA Survey (Chris Pappas)
In 2000/2001 COGS did a survey about bread and butter issues. The plan
is to do this survey again next year—this time through GAPSA.
If you are interested contact Chris Pappas (LINK). Also, we will be
going to Duluth to set up a plan for COGS representation up there,
contact Chris Pappas if you are interested.
Portal Presentation (Scott Barnard)
Portal is a website you log into, it knows who you are, and allows you
to access customized information. Within Portal there are different
views—for example, the Class of 2009 and Duluth class of 2009
both have views. This means that if you set your Portal to receive
a particular view you can quickly receive information pertinent to
a certain population. Graduate students could also set up a view which
could provide weekly updates and push a message to your constituency.
One can also select different news channels meaning that when you logon
to your portal the news sources you want to access are already for
you. You can also create your own channel which is public and password
protected. Password protected channels can be used for transferring
documents and other files. The MyToolkit part of the portal can be
used to set up discussions and distribute teaching material. Students
can also access university web space and establish their own homepage.
If you are interested, please contact me.
OneStop Committee (Sean McNee)
Sean was not in attendance but provided minutes to be entered into the
Affordable Housing (Shana Watters)
Commonwealth Terrace is opening up to single graduate students (formerly
reserved for married students or those with dependents). A one bedroom
costs %508 which includes parking, utilities, and cable TV. There will
be an email coming out shortly for those interested in signing up.
You have to be a graduate or professional student to live here. No
pets. If interested, please contact Lynda Shepaurd at 651-646-7526.
Fees Committee (Britt Johnson)
Everything went great. Looks like we got all the funding we requested.
GAPSA (Meghan Warren)
GAPSA met with MSA. We passed two joint positions—one on program
closures and one on a joint lobbying effort to support the bi-annual
request. We did not pass a resolution asking tuition to be capped at
5.5%. This failed because we did not want to send the message that a
5.5% increase was acceptable. We also passed a joint resolution condemning
ESL TAs Being Replaced by TSs (Larry Davis)
The College of Liberal Arts is looking to replace Teaching English as
a Second Language TAs with Teaching Specialists (TSs). We are not sure
how common this is
Discussion proceeded in which the following comments were made:
This is currently common in English, Spanish, German, Scandinavian and
Dutch, Chinese, and other language departments.
Many of these TSs are people with Ph.D.s who have been unable to find
permanent academic jobs.
This is a bad policy, not only for us but it prevents our departments
from recruiting good graduate students.
This is a wider issue and has even been proposed by the University Administration
in the Financing Higher Education
Taskforce document in which they suggested
that this practice could become more common.
There has also been talk that CLA is interested in decreasing enrollment
by 20%. They claim to want this in order to: 1) increase quality (a decreased
ratio between application and admittances leads to higher rankings) and
2) respond to demand (for example, there is no demand for hundreds of
people with Ph.D.s in Spanish but there is a high demand
for people to instruct undergrad Spanish classes—this
would be a perfect opportunity to replace TAs with TSs).
There is also the possibility that this is the first step in a major
privatization effort. If you justify using TSs based on quality and demand,
it’s not long before you spread this practice to other departments.
It’s not unfeasible to think that some departments--especially
those under financial pressure--would replace most, if not all, TAs
with TSs. They could even hire their graduate students back
as TSs thereby saving lots of money on tuition, fringe rate, fees, etc.
Davis: One of the frightening aspects about this process is the lack
of a paper trail and the fact that its happening in scattered departments
across the University without any public discussion
about this process.