The TA Contract FAQ & Info Session will now be taking place on Monday, September 22nd from 12:00pm-1:30pm in AH 2R21.
The GES meeting will now be taking place on Monday, September 29nd from 12:00pm-1:30pm in AH 2R21.
In this issue:
- Book sale update
- The GES@Western website
- Post-Qualifying-Exams Celebrations
- Survey: Workshop on Student Poverty, Year X, and GES Support
- First GES Meeting and reminder of upcoming events
Book Sale Update
We’ve already had a great start to our year with our book & bake sale. We’re delighted to announce that the final tally is in, and thanks to your organizing, overseeing, and remarkable baking, the GES has raised $1030. Donations are still pouring in, and we suspect that the labyrinthine nature of the Arts and Humanities building may have reduced our traffic somewhat, so we are considering having another sale in January.
The GES@Western Website
After a lapse in web presence last year, the GES website is now (mostly) updated for your browsing pleasure! As handy as Facebook and the GES listserv is, it helps to have all of your news, resources, and events in one convenient location. In addition to a blogroll for current events, the website includes information about awards and scholarships, contacts within the GES, links to other campus organizations, reading and research groups, The Jane Errors, important documents, and (perhaps most importantly) an event calendar that can help you visualize and keep track of GES-sponsored events. GES newsletters and meeting minutes will also be added to the site as the year goes on.
If you are a new student, we encourage you to take a peek at the website! The campus organizations page is being expanded over the next week, and we’re still awaiting up-to-date contact information for a number of the reading and research groups, but the most important bits (namely of a financial/organizational persuasion) have been updated.
We’ve already had a few lovely folks ask about becoming involved with the GES. In case you were not aware, the GES is a team made up entirely of graduate students in the Department of English who work to make sure that your time here is fantastic. These folks work in a number of different roles, some of which are filled by elections in the beginning of the summer and others that are filled by elections in the fall, that is, right now!
On the website under Service Positions, you can see descriptions of all GES service positions, including the following positions open for election:
- MA Representative
- Academic Coordinator
- Social Coordinators (two positions)
- Website/Listserv Manager
- ACCUTE/MLA Representative
- SOGS Councillor (three positions)
- PSAC Union Stewards (three positions)
These positions have a wide range of time commitments and call for a variety of experiences and interests. Are you tech-savvy? Then maybe the Website/Listserv position is up your alley! Are labour rights important to you? You may want to become one of our Departmental Union Stewards! Are you the life of the party, have a knack for planning events, and want to help make sure that GES members have something social to look forward to? The Social Coordinator position is calling your name!
If you are interested in any of the positions, please submit your name, your program (MA or PhD), the position in which you are interested, and a short statement of interest outlining why you want to fill the position and what experiences and skills you’ll be bringing to the position to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, September 29th.
As always, any questions can be directed to the GES Co-Chairs.
At the end of this week, many folks in the PhD program will be writing their Qualifying Exams. To celebrate the impending success of our brilliant friends and colleagues (and to facilitate much-needed post-exam decompression) we would like to invite all exam writers to the Grad Club at 2pm this Friday, September 19th for post-exam appetizers and snacks sponsored by the GES. We also encourage all GES members to convene and join us at this event, as it is an occasion for good cheer and solidarity!
Survey: Student Poverty, Year X, and GES Support
As many of you already know, Western University has recently made the decision to stop offering OGS funding to any student beyond their funding period (in the Department of English, this period is four years). Given that until now the OGS was often the sole chance for support for students in Year X, many GES members in the upper years of their programs have raised valid and serious concerns about how to successfully complete their program (which, on average, takes longer than the four year fundable period) in the face of serious financial burdens.
It has been suggested that the GES offer a workshop or series of workshops to better support students in all years who are facing poverty, precarious living situations, and general financial hardship. To that end, we have created a short survey to help us determine which issues are most pressing for GES members and what kind of support would be most beneficial to students in our program. This survey is completely anonymous, and all answers to the survey will be kept confidential. Students in the PhD IV year and Year X are strongly encouraged to participate. If you wish to participate, we would greatly appreciate your feedback. Student poverty is a very real concern, and your input can help the GES do a better job of supporting its membership in ways that matter.
The survey can be found HERE.
First GES Meeting and Upcoming Events
As we mentioned during the orientation session, GES meetings are a crucial way to stay in the loop about what is going on the Department of English. From news from department meetings to updates from the Committee on Graduate Studies, from political issues to social events, GES meetings are a “one-stop-shop”: you get to offer input on how the GES is run, and you get all of your major news updates in one place. Meetings tend to end on time, and are usually not more than an hour and a half.
The first GES meeting of the year is scheduled for Friday, September 26th from 10:00am-11:30am in Room 2R21 of the Arts and Humanities Building. An agenda for this meeting will be distributed no later than Monday, but one of the main items on the list will be a discussion of our annual holiday party and garnering a sense of what kind of social and academic events we’d like to see throughout the year.
Also, a reminder to new students that the TA Contract FAQ and Info Session (information about this session can be found here) will be taking place this Friday.
Hello, GES members! As you recall, last week during orientation one of our speakers was Jaime Brenes Reyes, our Chief Steward of Arts & Humanities for the coming year. Jaime was presenting on behalf of PSAC Local 610, the union that represents all Teaching Assistants and Postdoctoral Fellows here at Western. The information you receive during orientation week can be pretty overwhelming, and Jaime only had fifteen or so minutes to introduce the union and what it does. Because of this, I thought it might be helpful to hold an FAQ/information session near the beginning of the term. The goals of the session are:
- to familiarize you with the most important details of your TA contract (the Collective Agreement);
- to give you a better idea of what steps to take if you encounter a difficulty or problem over the course of your teaching assistantship;
- and finally, to give you an opportunity to ask more detailed and focused questions now that you’ve actually begun to TA, and have had a chance to look at your contracts and supporting documentation.
As the Lead Graduate Teaching Assistant for this year, Kevin Shaw will be holding a variety of workshops to develop skills for the actual day-to-day business of being a TA, holding office hours, managing tutorials, grading, and professionalization. However, this workshop has more to do with understanding the terms of your employment (your contract) and provide you with the information you need if you have question or issues throughout the year with your rights and responsibilities as a TA. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you be informed about your rights and responsibilities as a TA, and that you know who to talk to and what steps to take if an issue arises.
The workshop will be held on Friday, September 19th from 10:00am-11:30am in Room 2R21 of the Arts and Humanities Building (the building in which you can also find Leanne’s office, if you are still getting used to campus). I’ll be hosting the workshop. I’ll be serving as one of your three Departmental Stewards this year, served as Chief Steward of Arts & Humanities last year and as Departmental Steward the year before that, so I’ve had a lot of experience answering questions and handling issues from the very small to the very serious and will be equipped to answer any questions you may have.
I’ve listed a few resources here that will come in handy over the course of the year and may help you pinpoint some questions for the workshop beforehand. One of these (the TA Handbook) you have a paper copy of, but in the event that this handbook gets lost in the shuffle it’s always handy to have a digital copy. The resources can all be found at the following link: http://www.psac610.ca/index.php/documents-forms
- Graduate Teaching Assistant Collective Agreement (the detailed contract under which you are employed as a Teaching Assistant, and which outlines the terms and conditions of your employment here at Western)
- Graduate Teaching Assistant Handbook (digital copy)
- Hours Log Sheet (a useful tool for keeping track of your TA hours every week, which is a crucial part of preventing overwork and ensuring that you are working within the terms of your contract)
If you have any questions or concerns about the information session, get in touch with me via email. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you at the workshop!
All the best,
After a long drought in terms of web presence, your friendly neighbourhood GES Co-Chairs have been working hard to get the GES@Western website back in action. In addition to providing students with updated information, we’re also working towards ensuring that new content from the past year (the Constitution and Bylaws, The Jane Errors, our event calendar, and so on) is posted to the site.
While we love the ease of Facebook and the GES Listserv for sharing information, we hope that the website will serve as an additional tool in the way of directing you to resources, keeping you updated on events and initiatives in the Department of English, and making sure that new students have a sense of what the GES does and who to talk to about any issues they may have. It also helps give prospective students a sense of graduate life in the Department.
It may be a while before we work out the kinks and shape the site so that it is of greatest use to GES members—not to mention that we won’t have a new Webmaster-or-mistress until after the upcoming elections. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for content you’d like to see on the website, please contact the Co-Chairs and we will do our best to incorporate them.
Thank you for your understanding, and welcome to the site!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Literary Burlesque: Raising Eyebrows and Funds for a Local Cause
Most Londoners have probably never heard of the Graduate English Society at Western University. It’s comprised of burgeoning scholars in Western’s Department of English who, apart from working on their Master’s and PhD requirements, teach undergraduate students, conduct research with professors, and publish research of their own. Many are also finding ways to reach out to the community—to show the relevance of English studies to the urban spaces around them and to society at large. After all, English isn’t merely about analyzing novels and poetry. Cultural studies, gender studies, horror studies, food studies, eco-criticism, even video game theory: while all of these areas of scholarship can be informed by classic literature, their relevance to the twenty-first century is obvious.
With these and other ideas in mind, members of the GES are partnering with YOUR Drag & Burlesque to deliver an evening of literary-themed performance, with proceeds going to Open Closet, a London support group for LGBTQ teens (http://www.hivaidsconnection.ca/open-closet). This 19+ event is being held at the London Music Club, 470 Colborne St, on Thursday, November 29th. Doors open at 9:00pm; the show starts at 10:00pm. Tickets, which can be purchased at the door, are $10.00, with a policy that no one is turned away for lack of funds.
See a guilt-ridden but erogenous Lady MacBeth cover her husband in “blood.” Follow a hairy-chested Little Red Riding Hood on the way to grandma’s house. Watch Sherlock Holmes and Watson investigate a crime—with more than a little sexual tension in the air. Feast your eyes on one of the sexy dancing felines from Cats (the musical, of course, is based on poetry by T.S. Eliot). It’s all in good, often humorous fun, designed to raise both eyebrows and charity money.
Though this genre of entertainment may not be for everyone, both drag and burlesque are centuries-old forms of performance. And as PhD student and performer Diana Samu-Visser explains, they are deeply rooted in satire and comedy, and yet they’re often also dramatic reflections on issues of the eras in which they are staged. “Drag and burlesque forge important ties in and between communities,” says Samu-Visser, who performs as Miss Sixty Lashes at Thursday’s event.
The idea to partner with YOUR Drag & Burlesque came from GES Social Coordinator Meghan Adams, a PhD student in English. Adams, who also performs, sees the event as a chance to engage the academic community with every day social needs. This show, she says, “is close to the hearts of many of our young department members because it uses the arts we love to effect change and support youth in the community in which we live and work.” GES co-chair Darren Monteith who, along with Jeremy Greenway, gave the project the green light, concurs. “We tend to assume communities outside and within the university are separate,” notes Monteith, “but there are great things we can accomplish by thinking of them together.”
WHAT: The Graduate English Society at Western presents YOUR Drag & Burlesque Show: Literary Edition
WHEN: Thursday, November 29th, 2012. Doors open at 9pm; show at 10pm. 19+
WHERE: The London Music Club, 470 Colborne St, London
COST: $10 in advance or at the door (no one turned away for lack of funds); proceeds go to Open Closet, support group in London for LGBTQ youth aged 14-18
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact GES Co-chair Jeremy Greenway (email@example.com)
Join us on Thursday, October 25 at 4pm in the Grad Club for this year’s first Pints with Profs. What better way to start off the 2012-13 series than with two of our brand-new faculty additions? That’s right: enjoy a beverage with Professors Anne McTaggart and Kate Stanley. Watch and listen as they’re “interviewed” about their grad school memories, secret talents, literary passions (or hatreds), and much more. Ask your own questions, or just come along to learn more about two burgeoning scholars and educators. This is a very relaxed and informal event–a perfect way to wind down the week and to stay in touch with your colleagues. See you there!