Engineering Town Hall on Teaching Assistantships

Abstract

As the pandemic shutdown looms onward, Teaching Assistants across campus continue to struggle to meet deadlines and departmental expectations. Join OrganizeUW for a casual evening conversation led by your Graduate Student Association (GSA) representatives for Civil & Environmental Engineering and Systems Design Engineering to discuss experiences, challenges, and opportunities for TAs in the Faculty of Engineering. Have you received sufficient support to complete your TA duties? Are you receiving the work experience you need for your professional development goals? What can unionization do for you? What concerns do you have as we move into another physically distant semester? Bring your concerns and questions.

Date
May 11, 2021 5:00 PM — 6:00 PM
Event
Engineering - Joint Town Hall Conversation
Location
Online webinar
Registration for this event has now closed.

The town hall will feature GSA Councillors from multiple engineering departments and graduate student organizer(s) from OrganizeUW.

Hope to see you there!


Summary of Discussed Topics at the Engineering Townhall

In order to facilitate open sharing and discussion, this webinar/town hall meeting was not recorded. Below is an anonymized summary of the discussion, including concerns raised by panellists and attendees.

Transparency of the Application Process & Required Work Experience

There were some concerns regarding how to input your skills and what are the important qualifications to consider:

  • How can we make sure we have enough qualities?
  • Where should we enter our qualifications in the application form?
  • Can we be a TA as a first-term Master’s student?
  • How is the selection happening? Is there a priority regarding Ph.D. students vs. Master’s students?

TA Responsibilities and Expectations (pre- COVID and post-COVID)

  • Not all the departments were offering technical devices to the students who needed them
  • Recording videos to upload is time-consuming and uncomfortable.
  • There have been lots of emails being received from the students to TAs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has increased the required time from TAs.
  • Possibility of replacing some other platform such as Piazza to answer students other than email
  • What are the expectations, and when does the workshop happen?
  • Is the workshop happening during COVID?

Payment Concerns

  • There was some concern regarding how the wage increment has happened and if this will affect the GRS.
  • How is the payment changed? Some students thought there would be some change in the way the TAs are paid. However, they haven’t received their payment yet as of the end of the first month.

Required Support & Work Environment

  • Is there going to be any vaccination if the TAs are required to go back to the university?
  • How is the re-opening being planned?
  • Are TAs responsible for doing in-person activities?

Introduction to Unionization

  • Lots of engineering students do not know about unionization, and therefore, they have not voted.
  • Letting the students know so that they can decide by themselves if they want it to happen is important.
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
supported by CUPE

The Committee to Organize uWaterloo is a grassroots campaign to unionize the academic workers at the University of Waterloo. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's largest union.

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