Sep 27 2013

October 5th, 2013 | Posted by hsindhi in Miscellany

SSA Meeting Minutes – 9.27.13

1)   Introductions


2)   Scheduling SSA meetings going forward

a)    Original proposal was to meet on Fridays at 3pm; another suggestion – alternate between Thursdays at 6:30pm and Fridays at 3pm; going ahead with second suggestion

b)   Next meeting Thurs Oct 24th 6:30pm

c)    Food for meetings – Can order pizza; Jonathan will order for next meeting (Sicilian style please); can alternate person responsible for ordering food for SSA meetings


3)   First-year orientations

a)    Rachel’s suggestions- Physical formal orientation (meet-and-greet, party), welcome email, virtual orientation through OpenCUNY (need to work on this still)

b)   Peer-mentoring – Restart this?; Jonathan can make a googleform and Kyla can send to gsoc listserve to gather interest and sign-ups; suggestion to have back-ups for people who do not follow-up with their mentees

c)    First-year rep: James and Micheal are on-board (yay!)

d)   Meet-the-mentors – Set-up for Oct 4th; SSA board members should help people sign up by sending emails on gsoc

e)    OpenCUNY: Hamad will create instructions on how to navigate to OpenCUNY SSA to distribute to the students


4)   Purposeful Pedagogy workshop (Jonathan)

a)    Description of workshop – To provide people with a framework so they can start teaching; very successful in years past; expanded in the second year; lots of work to organize

b)   Need to look for ways to make this more sustainable: Maybe creating a committee within SSA; email gsoc list serve to ask for interest (Jonathan); think about ways to formalize this initiative (all SSA members)


5)   DSC report (Vanessa)

a)    Reimbursement receipts go to Vanessa for all SSA events

b)   Allocation of funds – Funds go toward requests from department, events for SSA

c)    We have $790 until end of June 2014

d)   SSA needs to get DSC authorization (or is it already authorized?)

e)    DSC list-serve –


6)   Reports from committees

a)    EC – (Vanessa and Kyla):

i)     Student participation in admissions process: Torpey has been instructed to review the department’s governance compliance, with a special eye to the provisions regarding student participation; Torpey was especially concerned about student participation in admissions and awards decisions; Bylaws require that students participate in the former but not the latter, however, these two are becoming increasingly commingled; It was agreed that committee members would check in with other departments to see how they are handling this issue and Torpey will consult the lawyers on the legal implications; It was also suggested that this issue be further discussed at the open EC meeting next month.

ii)    Oral exams: Concern was expressed in the wide variety of how oral lists and exams are produced.  Some lists seem overly brief and fail to comprehensively cover the selected fields. The committee reviewed the principles behind oral exams:

−The students are to select three fields in which they are to demonstrate competence

−The purpose of the exam is to prepare students to teach but not for the dissertation

−The lists should give students a broad grounding in Sociology so that they can be flexible in their careers

−The lists should reflect the historical development of the field

−Orals committees may advise students to prepare lists as if they were teaching a high level graduate course

Some committee members highlighted that problems with oral exams and dissertation proposals are a problem of faculty oversight, but the solutions being proposed put the burden on students at a high anxiety time in the student’s career. The need for a peer review system to hold GC faculty accountable was discussed thoroughly. Apparently, other departments review faculty performance at regular intervals and will even clear house by not renewing appointments (see Anthropology and English). This was an extreme that the committee members did not want to follow. Instead, it was discussed whether the FMC should annually review the orals lists and dissertation proposals produced under faculty to discover troubling trends. It was also discussed whether a public shaming by the FMC or a private conversation with the EO would be the way to handle faculty oversight on these matters. It was agreed that:

– annual reminders about the purpose of oral exams (pulling from the language in the student handbook) will be sent out to both students and faculty

– in the proseminar, examples of good orals lists will be distributed

– the curriculum and exam committee will be in charge of sorting through existing lists, currently housed in the soc office, and pruning them down to only exemplary lists that the faculty would like future students to emulate

– the curriculum and exam committee may also start reviewing exams on an annual basis, although it wasn’t clear if this was for the purpose of faculty peer review

– it was also discussed that perhaps a guideline on the minimum number of authors per field be established

iii)  New professor appointment: Charles Post from BMCC has a new faculty line at the GC now

iv)  Senior seminar on preparing applicants for the job market: It was proposed that the department offer a Senior Proseminar to help students put together their job packages and give practice job talks.  Because the department can’t run a class for Level III students, they would need to get an exemption from upstairs. But the committee seemed willing to do this and confident that it was possible.

v)    Open EC meeting: Students can set the agenda for the open-EC meeting; SSA should advertise open-EC meetings to the student body

b)   FMC – (Bronwyn and Erin S and Erin M): Two proposals passed; Pam Stone is a wonderful chair, as per students; next meeting is Oct 18th

c)    C&E – (Jonathan and Albert and Matt and Dave): Not met yet

d)   Colloquium – (Hamad and Matt): Need to find more information on the nuts-and-bolts of how the committee can recommend presenters for colloquia; committee came up with a few guidelines to help in the process of finding and selecting presenters; decided to work on a survey to send out to the student body on topics they would like to see covered in the colloquia


7)   Other business that came up throughout the meeting:

a)    Special elections: Need to do special election for vacated seat in colloquium committee, and admissions & awards

b)   Need for accessible online space – Need to either make OpenCUNY more accessible and easier to navigate or explore other ways to provide students with student-led information, initiatives and documents

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