Monday, December 19, 2005

Memo from DGSs to Dean Stimpson

12 December 2005

To: GSAS Dean Catharine Stimpson

From: Directors of Graduate Studies (see attached list)

Re: Questions regarding the execution of the stipend-suspension policy for striking students

1. When a student is penalized stipend support, is this effectively a suspension (so that they can receive support in later years, e.g. the 6th or 7th year of study, after the period of ineligibility expires), or is it effectively a fine, withdrawing one or more of the promised semesters of MacCracken support?

2. If the proposed penalties for striking reduce the total number of semesters of stipend support promised to MacCracken fellows, does this constitute a violation of the MacCracken offer letters, which the university now regards as an enforceable contract with students? How should DGSs respond to student inquiries on this point?

3. If students are penalized stipend support, does the funding thus penalized revert to the department's portfolio of unused semesters?

4. If students are penalized semesters of stipend support and those semesters do not revert to the departmental portfolio, then the department effectively loses some of its funding towards teaching. How will that be replaced?

5. If students are penalized semesters of stipend support and those semesters do revert to the departmental portfolio, can these be assigned, like any other 'saved' support in the portfolio, to whatever student the department wishes?

6. How can the department determine whether a penalized semester counts as a fellowship semester or a TAship semester with respect to management of its portfolio and teaching requirements?

7. If students are declared ineligible for stipend under the Sexton policy, how can they fulfill the terms of their MacCracken obligation to teach a specified number of semesters? Does penalization of a semester of teaching, for example, simply reduce the number of semesters that a student is obligated to teach under the MacCracken program?

8. If, due to declaration of ineligibility, students are unable to fulfill their MacCracken obligation to teach a specified number of semesters, what happens to their non-teaching (fellowship) semesters? Will they be further penalized by a reduction in fellowship semesters due to having failed to fulfill their teaching semesters?

9. Students who intend to do fieldwork abroad (often in the fourth or fifth year) often attempt to schedule their teaching semesters so as to have a fellowship year available during the time spent away. How will this be dealt with if a student has been declared ineligible to teach at an earlier period? If this means they have an unfulfilled teaching obligation under the MacCracken program that needs to be fulfilled during the remaining years of support, are they thereby precluded from doing fieldwork?

10. Can students who cannot afford to continue studies while under stipend suspension take leaves of absence, and resume studies and MacCracken support when their period of ineligibility to teach has expired?

11. How does the administration intend to treat students with blended support, consisting of an outside funding source (such as Fulbright or a fellowship from their home-country government) plus a top-up to the MacCracken level? Presumably it cannot suspend the outside fellowship, but if it suspends only the MacCracken top-up portion, does that not violate the stated policy, which has been communicated to the outside funding agencies, that every student will minimally receive support to the MacCracken level? How should DGSs communicate this policy to existing and prospective incoming students with outside support?

12. A number of graduate students who are not on strike have indicated that they are unwilling to serve as replacement labor by taking over TA/GA assignments next semester that would otherwise have been assigned to students who have been suspended from teaching. Does the administration expect departments to force these students to take such assignments? By what means?

13. If nonstriking students refuse assignments that would otherwise have been the duty of suspended students, but are willing to do their normal assignments, will the President and the ULT consider them to be on strike? If so, since this will occur after the President's deadline, will the penalty therefore be loss of a year's stipend? (If so, what guidelines can the administration provide to DGSs to explain this, given that a continuing striker faces only the loss of a semester's support, while a nonstriking student who refuses a replacement assignment loses a full year's support?)

14. Given that students are at all different points in the use of their TA semesters of support vs. fellowship semesters, how can a student who loses their stipend for strike activity know whether they are losing a TAship semester or a fellowship semester, and how to calculate their remaining teaching obligation?

15. Given that the procedures announced in the letters from the President and the Provost are new, do not conform to prior established practice, will rely on ad hoc methods for establishing which students are to be subjected to penalty, and lack an adjudicative mechanism or appeal procedure, does the administration anticipate lawsuits from students whose stipends are suspended and careers are hindered? If so, are DGSs and department chairs likely to be named in such lawsuits if they participate in the execution of this policy?

16. What procedural guidelines will the administration provide to DGSs and Chairs to ensure that they will not be liable to student lawsuits for participation in this policy? What defence and insurance will the administration provide to DGSs and Chairs against any liability that may arise through their participation in the execution of this policy?

17. President Sexton's policy specifies that in the Spring '06 term, any TA/GA absences "not approved by the dean" will result in the loss of two semesters' eligibility for teaching assignments (and stipends). How will students apply for permission to be absent? To which dean? Must they apply in advance? If so, how far in advance?

18. What sorts of absences will be approved under this policy, and by what criteria will permission to be absent be granted or denied? What recourse (that is, what grievance or appeal procedure) will TA/ GAs or faculty have if they believe that permission was unfairly denied?

19. How will the absence approval policy treat medical or family emergencies? Are students liable to loss of stipend if they miss a class due to transportation problems, oversleeping, etc.? If a student misses only part of a class (e.g. arrives late), will this count as a penalizable absence?

20. Does the absence policy apply only to attendance in classes for which the TA/GA is the instructor (e.g. recitation sections), or does it apply to other TA/GA work as well, such as marking, attending lectures taught by the professor in the course, holding office hours, etc.? How is 'absence' to be assessed and monitored in such cases? Must students apply for decanal approval in order to vary their time of performance of such duties?

21. Are students who are penalized by loss of stipends still subject to the usual MacCracken limitations on outside work? Is it legal for the university to restrict a student's outside work if they are not receiving a stipend and have been declared ineligible to do their principle on-campus work as a TA/GA?

22. Can a student who is penalized by loss of stipend take outside work and decline further stipends under the MacCracken program beyond the semesters for which they have been declared ineligible? If so, will they retain tuition exemption and medical insurance coverage?

Gregory R. Guy
DGS, Linguistics

Richard Allen, Cinema Studies
John Archer, English
Herrick Chapman, French Studies
Suzanne Cuzick, Music
Hartry Field, Philosophy
Adam P. Green, Social and Cultural Analysis
Martha Hodes, History
Michelle Lowrie, Poetics and Theory


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good questions! I cant wait to see Stimpson try to answer these questions without using the word "responsibility".

12/19/2005 10:16 AM  
Blogger zach said...

I guess they're, like, calling her to account.

12/19/2005 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. That's easily among the best documents I've read this semester.

Duke supporter

12/20/2005 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Que Viva Linguistics!

12/20/2005 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what you call taking the opposition down on their own terms. Go GSOC!

Yale Supporter

12/28/2005 1:26 AM  

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