AGSA Minutes, 8th October 2008

Anthropology Graduate Student Association
Meeting 8th October 2008


1. Student Positions
2. AGSA Dept Rep Updates
3. AGSA Letter to Department
4. Comprehensive Exams Proposal
5. AGSA Blog: what else would you like to see?
6. Coffee Kiosk – the final word?
7. Social Events: grad party 19th November, end of term party?
8. Other Business
1.  Student positions remaining that need to be filled

Student Kenzie Jessome has volunteered for the GSS Representative (MA) position along with Sandra Youssef (Sandra is taking this on temporarily until someone else volunteers to take this on). AGSA voted on Jesse Morin as a graduate student representative to sit on the hiring committee for a bio-anthropologist and all were in favour. The MA rep position for the AGSC still remains open.

2.  AGSA Department Representative Updates

Update from Co-Presidents:
Marina and Natasha reported on their brief meeting with the Head (John Barker). They informed the society that the department has a larger budget this year and will be offering $500.00 in the name of AGSA to bring Michael Taussig to a conference put on by the Art History, Visual Art and Theory students at UBC. During the two day conference, Taussig will give a key-note speech and also a workshop. The reason given by the Head for donating this funds was to encourage interdisciplinary (and reciprocal) ties between graduate students in these two departments-in particular for getting AHVAT students to participate in our own conference in March. The other reason was to support the effort to bring a big name anthropologist to UBC. There will be further information available on the subject in January. Money will also be put forward (possibly up to $2000) within the Department of Anthropology to bring in a key guest speaker for our own conference as well as to upgrade the website.

Update from the Treasurer: Joanne requested that any emails or information regarding AGSA financial issues be forwarded to keep her updated on these matters. AGSA will also be investing in a high quality USB to safely record and store important documents and financial information that can be handed on to the next treasurer.

Update from the GSS Representative: Kisha presented information regarding the topics of discussion at the last GSS meeting. These included the continued debate over procedural processes in the production of the GSS Student Handbook, and GSS’s neutrality on whether UBC is to join Division 2 of the National Collegiate Athletics Association. She announced that there will be a GSS special general meeting held on Thursday, November 6 at 5:30 to discuss bi-law changes to the society.

Update from AGSC Representative: As student representative, Arianne relayed updates regarding the last department meeting. Topics of discussion at the meeting focused on primarily on admission. This year, there are lots of news students and it was discussed whether it was a better logistical strategy to admit more students (in anticipation that they will not all accept), or less students (in anticipation of their acceptance). The merits of admitting students into the graduate program that hold undergraduate degrees outside of anthropology were examined. Admittance to the PhD program directly from an undergraduate degree was also discussed.

Arianne also raised questions to the AGSA regarding the role of the AGSC Representative. It was asserted that the representative is both entitled to vote, and raise issues or concerns. However, this needs to be discussed with both Pat Moore and the committee in order to clarify the rights and responsibilities of the student representative.

3.  AGSA Letter to the Department

Marie-Eve Carrier Moisan drafted a letter detailing the AGSA concerns and priorities in the Department which was circulated via email to AGSA members for their concerns and feedback. Discussion about how to make the letter most effective focused on the structure of the letter. It was suggested that the letter should comprise of a detailed outline of concerning issues, impacts and a series of recommendations. Background research on department or university policies relating to each concern should be included to increase the effectiveness of the letter. It was stressed that input and concerns from new student would be highly valuable.

The faculty retreat is being held on November 7, 2008 and the aim is to circulate the letter prior to this event in a similar fashion as last year. The goal is to have a final draft to circulate to the Department by the end of October. Though the Head has indicated that the letter should be submitted first to himself and Pat Moore (as chair of the AGSC), we discussed that there are no guidelines for this process and last year the letter was simply circulated to all faculty.

4. Comprehensive Exam Proposal

Issues regarding the comprehensive exams were brought to the department meeting and AGSA Representative Marie-Eve reported on the discussion. The motion to reduce the number of external examiners in the comprehensive exam from 2 to 1 was debated and in the end was not voted on. They decided to rethink the issue and vote at the next department meeting. Regarding the time periods allotted for writing the exam, it was found that department regulation does not allow students to write the exam after the 1st term of the 3rd year. Given this, there was no motion passed. The existing windows for writing the comprehensive exams were clarified as (1) October-November, and (2) March-April. There are exceptions for special circumstances that were acknowledged, however, it was noted that there we need formalization in order to maintain consistency and get rid of confusion surrounding these issues. As a step towards less confusion, there will be a workshop for students and faculty regarding the comprehensive exams (date TBA).

Solen noted two issues surrounding the comprehensive exams: (1) the pressing issue of organizing scheduling for those who are writing this year, (2) the more general issue regarding scheduling and logistics of comprehensive exams. Solen announced that she is stepping down as coordinator of these issues and will pass on materials to anyone interested in continuing this pursuit.

5.  AGSA Blog

The AGSA blog is up and running thanks to Kate Hennessey! We will eventually need somebody to fill the position of webmaster of the site. This will entail control of the main content and structure. If there are any ideas regarding the blog, they should be sent to Kate for now, but please copy to Lina as she is our website rep and is coordinating with Kate on this. It was suggested that the AGSA blog should be linked with the department website. Lina agreed to contact John to discuss this possibility.

6.  Coffee Kiosk

It was decided that given how far we are into the school year, organizing the coffee kiosk is not feasible this semester and is an issue that will be brought up again at a future meeting in order to have it up and running for the second semester.

7.  Social Events

In regards to the department graduate party on November 19, AGSA must coordinate with undergraduate students in order to initiate organization. This issue will be further discussed at the next society meeting.

8.  Other Business

Rafael suggested that all MA and PhD theses should be considered for department student prizes as opposed to the nomination system currently in place.

Marie-Eve encouraged all students to work off some turkey and mashed potatoes on Saturday and join the Anthropology vs. Sociology soccer game!

Next AGSA Meeting: November 12th, time TBD


One Response

  1. Regarding the department graduate party– Nov. 19th is right in the middle of the AAAs in San Francisco. Can the date be changed?

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