April 12, 2015
This semester, various groups in the university are stepping up efforts to reform the graduate teaching assistant system, such as the College of Liberal Arts “TA Task Force,” a new GSA Bill of Rights, and most recently, a public forum held by UT Senate concerning TA issues.
Last month, the UT Senate featured issues surrounding TAs in one of their Campus Conversations series, which are discussions open to all students to raise questions and issues that affect UT.
Graduate TAs are essential to the learning process at UT, according to UT Senate Co-chair Gabrielle Torres, making it an important task for organizations like UT Senate to discuss openly and seriously.
“Teaching Assistants are vital resources for students and professors, alike,” Torres said. “UT’s stance, treatment, and training of TAs should not only reflect this crucial relationship, but should also be supportive of TAs.”
Among the issues raised at the forum were inadequate training and support for TAs, inconsistent teaching and grading, and the problem of professors asking TAs to perform tasks that are not in the job description.
“We had heard of a wide array of issues stemming from the Task Force Initiative, and Senate wanted to glean additional feedback,” Torres said.
UT Senate heard from both undergraduate students and graduate TAs, and their different viewpoints led to many suggested solutions. One such solution was increased communication between TAs and professors and a TA “contract” to clearly outline the duties of a TA.
“The feedback demonstrates what students perceive as being ‘issues’ at UT, and often time, also provides an idea of what students think would be viable solutions to such issues,” Torres said.