Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Grad Council.

Not, apparently, an adjunct of Student Council.

Far more important, in fact.

Grad Council determines the course offerings for graduate level, the prerequisite courses necessary, it approves waivers for transfer credits, and takes care of graduate commencement. I'm one of two students on a 14-member body that's mostly professors and then the dean.

All of this is to say that I'm actually very happy to be a part of it. I was worried it'd be some kind of Prestwich-run rubber stamp committee, but it's nothing of the sort. I mean, a lot of it is pro forma, but that's an outgrowth of most professors understanding their own department and not really anyone else's, so when they bring proposals and explain them, nobody really knows enough to argue with it, and generally if they do know enough they agree anyway because most of the proposals make sense.

I also was able to contribute meaningfully on my first day, which was another worry I had. I seconded a motion to approve an exceptional waiver for a student graduating in May in a field we're eliminating next year. I looked over the syllabi for the courses she took at a different college, was quite impressed with their rigor (Lord knows I could never do that shit), made sure that the field hadn't changed significantly in the intervening years, and as the professor in the relevant field also vouched for their rigor, I joined her in the motion.

We also discussed getting more students on Grad Council, which was pretty illuminating for me. I saw a bunch of candidates shot down - they were considered not serious enough, or not good enough. In the end they decided to extend an invitation to one guy and one alternate, and the guy that got the initial invite has been doing research on West Nile virus for three years. So it dawned on me that this is kind of a big deal. It's like being in the local chapter of the Illuminati or some shit.

We also addressed the student speakers at grad commencement. Apparently there was a big dust-up over this last year, as one of the students got up there and talked about Jesus or whatever. This is a state college, and while what the student did wasn't illegal (if it had been a professor or a dean saying that stuff, it would have been - nobody acting in the capacity of a state employee can advance a religious doctrine) it still wasn't good. And apparently the professors had it out too. So I didn't get the context at the time, but one of the Communications professors in my department spoke up, suggesting guidelines for the speech. I suggested she talk to the two speakers for an hour or so, almost like a one-day class, since she said that public speaking isn't really a part of school curriculum anymore and therefore a lot of students have no idea how to do it.

We also all agreed not to pre-review any speeches - I was the valedictorian in my fundie-as-shit high school, and I kinda denounced the school in my speech, as their curriculum teaches that the Klan were good guys and that's pretty fucked. So all the valedictorians afterward had to submit to pre-review of their speeches. I mean, I know Chadron State, for all its bureaucratic bullshit, doesn't do anything remotely that idiotic. But I support academic freedom, including the freedom to criticize, even in a formal event like that. Pre-reviews take away that academic freedom, so I didn't want it. Fortunately, neither did any of my colleagues.

Weird. Professors are no longer "those dudes I gotta make happy in order to pass" and are now "colleagues." That's new.

I guess I'm getting used to this whole GA thing after all.

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