SSA Meeting Minutes – 10.24.13
1) Upcoming Meetings
As there was interest in attending the next executive committee expressed on the GCSOC list serv, please be advised that the next EC Meeting is Friday Nov. 15th at 1pm. We generally meet in the thesis room. Chrissy had recommended bringing the open meeting procedures (which can be found here http://www.cunydsc.org/open-meetings-procedures) in case the faculty raises questions about non-SSA rep students attending the meeting.
Also, mark your calendars, the next SSA meeting will be Friday, November 22nd at 3pm (location to be announced).
2) Alumni Relations
It was discussed whether or not we want to publish a newsletter like other departments do (it would target current and past students) and whether or not we want to send out an email to alumni, asking them to donate money to our travel and grants fund. As the SSA Alumni Relations representative, Colin offered to draft the newsletter by collecting Rati’s emails about faculty and student achievements and also soliciting notifications from the GCSOC list serv. He will also research possible mail merge or eblast platforms that are cheap or free. In addition to being emailed out to alumni, the newsletters can be posted on the SSA website.
3) Purposeful Pedagogy
In the interest of making the popular and student driven Purposeful Pedagogy Workshop, Jonathan Davis and Sara Martucci have solicited interest from the student body of people interested in taking the lead on the organization and execution going forward. They are meeting Tuesday, November 5th at 3pm in the Sociology Lounge if you would like to join. If you are unable to join at that time but interested in participating in this project, email Jonathan. Also, the Professional Development Department has approached Jonathan and Sara, indicating their support for the workshop and it looks like funding may be made available to ensure its sustainability.
4) Faculty and Membership Committee Report
This month, the FMC did not meet because there were no dissertation proposals to review. However, it was brought up that this committee is tasked with addressing faculty issues as well, and there are a number of faculty issues circulating that need to be addressed. Furthermore, FMC is responsible for reviewing faculty applications from other CUNY campuses to become GC affiliated. There were such applications submitted and yet the committee did not meet. Finally, it was pointed out that other departments regularly review their list of affiliated faculty and remove those that don’t have an active relationship with the GC. Our department does not and it was suggested that this is a type of false promise to prospective students who are told there are 79 affiliated faculty but it’s really a much smaller pool of faculty students have opportunities to interact with at the GC.
5) Curriculum and Exam Committee Report
C&E has not yet met this semester because it hasn’t been constituted. At the open executive committee meeting, Torpey said that he would appoint faculty to the committee by the next executive committee meeting (November 15). Also at the open ec meeting, this committee was appointed with discussing course evaluations, orals list, a senior proseminar for job market preparation, and assisting Torpey in drafting the new fourth member dissertation committee process. Obviously, this committee has been tasked with a lot of substantial work and it is concerning that it was not constituted prior to students pressuring Torpey to do so at the open ec meting.
6) Orals Lists
It was brought up that a student had digitized the lists but no one was sure what happened to those pdfs. An SSA representative will be following up on that.
7) Senior Proseminar for Job Market Preparation
It was agreed that the students should not be doing the work of the faculty in designing the proseminar, but that we can tell them what we would like to know (i.e. CV writing, job talks). If there are things you would like to see offered in this senior proseminar, please let the C&E reps know (Matt Block, Jonathan Davis, Albert Novelozo, Dave Monaghan). We can also remind the faculty that they may tap into the resources offered by the Career Development Center in developing this program for students. Finally, it looks like the senior proseminar will not be a class (see open ec debrief below for details) but perhaps it could be organized a type of job colloquium. The difference from regular colloquium, however, would be that it must involve opportunities for feedback to students who attend. In other words, the senior proseminar should not just be a lecture series of a workshop series.
8) Student Handbook
Technically, the student handbook is our legal contract with the department on the expectations of what we must do to complete our degree. However, the handbook is not being consistently distributed to incoming students and is out of date. It is the responsibility of the executive committee to update the handbook. And with all the recent or proposed changes in theory exams, oral exams, and dissertation committee constitution, the handbook would almost need to be updated after each executive committee. It was discussed how the SSA may be able to use the handbook strategically to stop such ad hoc procedural changes by holding the executive committee to actually update the handbook when these changes are passed.
A subcommittee of SSA representatives was formed to review the student handbook with an eye to:
policies and procedures that are out of date
guidelines that need clarification
practices that are not reflective of student experiences (i.e. what’s stated in the handbook isn’t what actually happens)
This subcommittee will also draft a statement of what an advisor-advisee relationship should be. This statement can be used to hold faculty accountable and also as an information tool for incoming students so that they can advocate for themselves.
This subcommittee will bring their findings to the next open executive committee meeting in the spring.
9) Awards and Admissions Committee Report
This committee has also not met because it has not been constituted. Torpey has said he will propose the A&A committee members for approval at the next executive committee meeting (November 15). In the meantime, the current representatives are meeting with former representatives in order to pass along institutional memory.
10) Colloquium Committee Report
Hamad and Matt (the student representatives) will be sending out an email within the next month or so to solicit feedback from students on what topics, themes, etc. we’d like to see represented in the colloquium. They will use this feedback to inform the priorities they will advocating for in their meeting with Torpey this spring when they discuss colloquium speaker invites for next year.
11) Open Executive Committee Meeting Debrief
Faculty seemed reluctant in terms of having anything formalized or structured and students wanted more structure
Bronwyn did an excellent job chairing the meeting, claiming the open EC as student lead. We should keep this going.
A common point of resistance from faculty seems to be academic freedom. But it’s important to keep in mind – whose academic freedom? We need to continually reassure faculty that students aren’t trying to encroach on their academic freedom; rather, we’re trying to create an environment where the academic freedom of both faculty AND students is honored.
The full minutes from this meeting are posted on the ‘Open EC Meeting Minutes – 10/18/13’ post.
12) Strategizing a Response to the New Dissertation Committee Constitution Process
SSA discussed how responding to this new procedure via individual conversations with Torpey (or other faculty in the hope that they will then talk with Torpey/the EC), puts too much of a burden of risk on individual students, especially considering the power dynamics. This doesn’t mean that students who are so motivated aren’t welcome to have these conversations. Rather, SSA voted on a collective response:
Step one was bringing it up at the open executive committee in order to talk it through with the faculty. That didn’t seem to get us very far.
Step two will be to draft a letter on behalf of the student body, stating that this policy is in violation of governance process and should be repealed until the proper procedures are followed. The letter will be sent to the Dean of Social Sciences and DSC Governance Task Force.
If this doesn’t work, voted on moving to a third option of going through the graduate council ourselves by drafting a procedure.
13) Availability of Meeting Minutes
Minutes from the open executive committee in addition to SSA meetings will be posted on the Open CUNY SSA website.
14) Additional Agenda Items
Due to time constraints, SSA tabled the following agenda items:
Faculty evaluations/feedback (clarifying goals and re-strategized) will be addressed by the C&E representatives)
Follow-up with Torpey on constitution of C&E committee will also be handled by those student representatives
Statement from the SSA re: students sitting on the admissions committee will be discussed at the next SSA meeting (November 22)
Selection of the next EO will also be discussed at the next SSA meeting (November 22)