The TAA had some important victories during the fifth Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) meeting. The GAPP committee is comprised of university administration and the TAA, and is responsible for creating the procedures and policies that will govern the working environments of teaching assistants, project assistants and research assistants on campus.
At the September 11th meeting, the administration accepted the TAA’s recommendation that departments be required to post available graduate assistant jobs on the student job center. The administration also agreed to hold several forums for graduate student input on the GAPP handbook in October. The dates and details have yet to be announced, but the agreement to hold these public forums is the direct result of advocacy from the TAA.
Despite the victories, there were issues of contention between the TAA and the administration. Specifically, the administration was reluctant to draft language providing graduate student workers with the materials needed to perform their jobs. The administration advocated moving away from the formal graduate student worker evaluation to a more information-based process that is subjective, unaccountable, and structureless. The administration was also reluctant to draft language detailing the structure of job duties and the work environment for graduate student workers. The TAA continues to fight for language detailing clear job descriptions, workplace processes and best practices (such as evaluations). This hesitation to write things down—as well as the administration’s unwillingness to commit to providing graduate student workers with the materials they need— was troubling to the TAA, and should worry graduate student workers across campus.
The GAPP committee agreed to continue the discussion around orientation and training at the next meeting. The TAA is pushing the university to develop specific language that addresses how TAs will be trained, as the organization believes TAs require more specialized training than other university staff.
Every concession the TAA wins is due to its members attending meetings, making comments, and being vocal. Please attend if you can.