I. GRADUATE ENGLISH ASSOCIATION
- The Graduate English Association (GEA) consists of all students registered in the Graduate English Department of University of Toronto for the current term.
- The GEA shall represent the interests of its members, send delegates to Department and University meetings, sponsor social and academic functions, keep the membership informed of all activities of interest, and distribute funds.
II. GEA EXECUTIVE
- The GEA Executive shall be made up of at least three elected officers. Available offices shall be President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. In addition to the GEA Executive offices there shall be the additional elected offices of two MA Representatives, one MA in Creative Writing Representative, two First Year PhD Representatives, and one International Students’ Representative.
- The President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary shall be elected at a spring meeting by majority votes. All nominees or their representatives must be present at this meeting, which shall be publicized through the GEA listserv (UTGEA-L@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA). MA Representatives, MA in Creative Writing, First Year PhD Representatives, and the International Students’ Representative shall be elected at the first general meeting in the fall.
- Should there be a vacancy on the Executive, the Executive may appoint someone to fill it, subject to the approval, by majority vote, of a general meeting.
- The Executive shall communicate prior to each GEA general meeting in order to set the agenda.
III. GENERAL MEETINGS AND PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE
- There shall be a general meeting, open to the membership, at least twice in the fall term and at least twice in the spring term.
- A general meeting may be called when six members petition the Executive.
- A quorum shall be constituted when there are at least two Executive officers and at least six general members present.
- General meetings shall be conducted informally, in accordance with basic rules of parliamentary procedure (see Appendix). The Executive shall consider majority decisions reached at these meetings to be the will of the membership.
- An Executive officer or delegate may be recalled by a two-thirds vote of members present and voting at a general meeting. A motion of recall must be publicized at least one week prior to voting by posting the agenda on the GEA listserv (UTGEA-L@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA). Grounds for recall shall be failure to fulfil the responsibilities of office and/or actions detrimental to the interests of the membership.
- The constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of members present and voting at a general meeting. A motion of amendment must be publicized at least one week prior to voting by posting the agenda on the GEA listserv (UTGEA-L@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA).
IV. GEA REPRESENTATIVES TO EXTERNAL ORGANIZATIONS
The GEA must be represented at the Graduate English Council (GEC), the Department of English General Meeting (EGM), and the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU). The Programme Committee, a standing committee of the GEC, also calls for two graduate students to be a part of its constituents, and the Planning Committee (also part of the GEC) traditionally has two graduate students as part of its constituents. (See sections VI and IX of this document.) The GEA is responsible for electing delegates to these groups, as well as to other Departmental committees and other bodies as needed.
By virtue of their offices, the members of the GEA Executive shall serve as members of the GEC and EGM. The remaining student delegates to those bodies, as well as to the GSU, the Programme Committee, the Planning Committee, and other committees and bodies shall be elected at a general meeting (see sections VI and IX). Should there be a vacancy, the Executive may appoint someone to fill it, subject to the approval, by majority vote, of a general meeting.
- Any funds held by the GEA shall be on deposit in an account at a nearby bank, credit union, or trust company, and shall be the Treasurer’s responsibility. At least two Executive officers must authorize the spending of these funds.
- These funds shall be used only for the benefit of the membership.
- The Treasurer shall provide a financial statement to the membership at the first and last general meetings of the academic year. The attending members must approve the financial reports (the proposed budget, budget changes, and the final budget) in a simple majority vote. If a report should be rejected, the treasurer must redraft an acceptable report to be approved at the next meeting. The GEA membership can also request to view the financial report at any other time throughout the year.
- Funding requests by groups within the GEA must be approved by a majority vote of members present and voting at a general meeting. Any group requesting more than $100.00 from the GEA over the course of a single academic year (September to August) must provide, at the time of its request, a detailed breakdown, in writing, of how the funds in question shall be spent. Receipts are required for releasing any funds.
- If, for any reason, the GEA is without an Executive, any and all funds outstanding in any and all GEA accounts shall be held in trust and supervised by the Graduate Student Union (GSU) until such time as an Executive is elected. In the event of a failure to elect a new Executive or the resignation of a sitting Executive, the officers authorized to supervise the GEA funds (see V.1) shall be responsible for arranging the transfer of these funds to a responsible officer or officers of the GSU, and for fulfilling any and all regulations of the bank with respect to such transfer.
VI. GEA RELATIONSHIP TO THE GRADUATE STUDENTS’ UNION
- All graduate students are members of the Graduate Students’ Union, entitled to benefit from its services, stand for its offices, and vote in its elections and referenda.
- The Graduate English Association is a constituent course union of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) and sends representatives to the GSU Council, which usually meets on the last Tuesday of each month. The number of GEA representatives to the GSU depends on the number of GEA members in the given year (see GSU By-law 5.2).i In 2007-2008 there were three representatives.
These representatives are liaison officers and are responsible for attending both GSU Council and GEA general meetings, and for participating in relevant discussions. They report to the GSU Council any issues within the GEA that may be of interest or concern to graduate students in general; likewise, they report the activities and concerns of the GSU to the GEA at general meetings and over the listserv.
- The GEA receives all of its funding through head grants issued by the GSU. Head grant cheques are issued in two instalments: a large cheque in October, based on 60% of the Graduate English Department’s enrolment for the previous year, and a smaller cheque in March, adjusting the total grant to reflect current enrolment. (See 3.11 of the GSU Policy Document.) The GEA’s GSU representatives must attend at least three out of four GSU Council meetings in the fall, or the spring cheque will not be issued. Additionally, the GSU offers special grants as additional support to small course unions or for funding conferences. The Department has also been known to contribute funds for special projects.
- In order to receive its head grant, the GEA must register with the GSU each September by completing the head grant application sent to its GSU representatives. As part of the head grant application the GEA Treasurer must submit to the GSU a detailed financial report (listing sources of income and expenses). Additionally, the GSU must be notified of the names of the GEA Executive and GEA GSU representatives as elections take place and the offices are filled (at the end of the academic year for the GEA Executive and at the first fall meeting for the GSU representatives).
- The Constitution of a Course Union must be approved by the General Council and shall include a provision delegating responsibility for its financial accounts to a member of the Course Union executive (GSU By-law 5.1(f)). Copies of changes, alterations, or additions to the GEA’s constitution shall be sent to the GSU Secretary as soon as possible. Such changes shall be deemed to take effect only when they have been received by the Secretary (GSU by-law 5.1(i)).
- Questions, reports of GEA activities, and other contact with the GSU may be directed to the GSU Fieldworker.
VII. GEA RELATIONSHIP TO THE CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
- The Graduate English Association has no official connection to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), although individual members of the GEA who have teaching assistantships may choose to join their union.
- All students employed by the University as teaching assistants, instructors, university tutors, and invigilators are members of the bargaining unit represented by CUPE Local 3902 and are covered by the collective agreement whether or not they are members of the union.
- Union members within the GEA elect representatives to the Stewards’ Council of CUPE who serve the interests of all members of the bargaining unit within the Department. The number of representatives to the CUPE Stewards’ Council depends on the number of GEA members employed within the English Department (see CUPE By-law 8.1).ii In 2007-2008 there were three representatives. Although the English Department stewards are elected at the annual GEA elections meeting, this is technically a union election (not a GEA election), and only currently signed members of the union in good standing may stand for elections and cast ballots. Current membership may be confirmed through the presentation of a valid (signed and dated) CUPE 3902 membership card or the assent of a current steward. All voters who cast a vote must be present; voting-by-proxy is forbidden. All steward elections and union membership issues are subject to the rules of CUPE 3902, the current Collective Agreement, and the union’s constitution and by-laws. The term of office for each steward shall be from the day of election until September 30 of the following calendar year. Stewards report to the Stewards’ Council on behalf of the members in the Department; likewise, they represent the Local to the employees in their departments and report the activities of the Local to the GEA at general meetings. Additionally, Stewards may need to advise the members of their departments with regard to matters involving the Collective Agreement, and where appropriate, process the grievances of the members in their department.
VIII. GEA RELATIONSHIP TO THE ASSOCIATION OF CANADIAN COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY TEACHERS OF ENGLISH
- The Graduate English Association has no official connection to the Association of Canadian College of University Teachers of English (ACCUTE), although individual members of the GEA may choose to join ACCUTE by paying the student membership fee.
- The GEA elects one student representative to the Graduate Student Caucus (GSC) of ACCUTE. The ACCUTE representative represents ACCUTE to the GEA at general meetings and by forwarding news and emails of interest to the GEA listserv (UTGEA-L@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA), and represents the GEA to ACCUTE. Representing the GEA includes completing the GSC’s annual survey of graduate student life. The survey normally takes place sometime between November and February, and the final report is published in ACCUTE’s June newsletter.
IX. GEA RELATIONSHIP TO DEPARTMENTAL COMMITTEES
- The Graduate English Association shall be represented on the following Departmental committees:
a) Graduate English Council: a number of graduate students equal to one-quarter the number of staff members appointed or cross-appointed to the Graduate English Department by the School of Graduate Studies (see Department By-law E.11(c)). The GEA Executive and other GEA representatives (MA, MA in CW, and PhD-1) shall fill nine of these positions. The remaining positions shall be filled by election. Should there be a vacancy, the Executive may appoint someone to fill it, subject to the approval, by majority vote, of a general meeting. Traditionally, members from the Executive from the preceding year fill some of these positions. The GEA representation to the GEC should include representatives from the different programmes (MA, MA in CW, and PhD) and from the different years of the PhD programme. International students and direct-entry students should also be represented. A list of all GEA representatives to the GEC should be supplied to the Graduate Secretary and the Director of Graduate Studies annually.
b) English General Meeting: a number of graduate students equal to one-eighth the number of all full-time staff members of the Department of English (see Department By-law F.16(a)). The GEA Executive shall fill four of these positions. The remaining positions shall be filled by election. Should there be a vacancy, the Executive may appoint someone to fill it, subject to the approval, by majority vote, of a general meeting. The GEA representation to the EGM should include representatives from the different programmes (MA, MA in CW, and PhD) and from the different years of the PhD programme.
c) Programme Committee: two graduate students (see Department By-law E.14(a)(iv)), one of whom is the GEA President or Vice-President. The GEA representatives to the Programme Committee are responsible for soliciting or delegating the solicitation of student feedback about possible future course offerings and about other issues related to class sizes and offerings. Such information will guide the representatives’ input at Programme Committee meetings and may even be drafted as a letter and/or a report, which may be submitted to the Chair of the Program Committee and/or to the entire faculty of the Graduate English Department.
d) Planning Committee: two graduate students, one of whom is the GEA President or Vice-President.
2. If members of the Executive or other GEA officers do not fill all positions, the Executive may appoint people to fill the positions, subject to the approval, by majority vote, of a general meeting.
3. Alternate student representatives may attend the EGM and GEC meetings in place of elected members when necessary. Representatives unable to attend meetings are responsible for finding substitutes.
4. Student members of the various councils and committees have full voting privileges. No additional students are permitted into the meeting rooms as observers.
X. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE GEA EXECUTIVE AND ADDITIONAL OFFICERS
1. The GEA Executive as a whole shall:
a) Actively respond to needs, interests, questions, and concerns expressed by the general membership, as well as to issues and events outside the GEA that affect graduate students in English.
b) Communicate between the students and the English Department.
c) Organize or delegate the organization of academic and social events.
d) Maintain or supervise the maintenance of the Graduate Student Lounge and Office (Jackman Humanities Building, coming 2008 or 2009), as well as GEA records and historical documents.
e) Maintain or delegate the maintenance of the GEA website, including the calendar of events of interest to the membership.
f) Compile or delegate the compilation of the GEA Directory.
g) Review and, if necessary, revise the GEA Constitution on a regular basis.
h) Help the English Department host registration and assist in the orientation of new students.
i) Communicate prior to each general meeting in order to set the agenda.
j) Oversee the purchase of holiday gifts for administrative staff and similar items.
2. The GEA President shall:
a) Act as a liaison between graduate students and the administrations of the Department and University, and serve as a contact and resource for all members of the GEA.
b) Assure that necessary representative positions (GSU, GEC, EGM, Programme and Planning Committees) are filled and that the appropriate organizations/people have been notified of the names of the representatives.
c) Monitor the flow and posting of information in student spaces, on the listserv, and on the website.
d) Organize or delegate the organization of workshops such as on Comprehensive Exams, Grant Writing, Special Field Exams, and Parenting (biannually), and any other workshops on topics that may be requested by and/or be of interest to the GEA membership.
e) Participate on the GSU Union Presidents’ list.
f) Write a letter of welcome to incoming students.
g) Coordinate an information session for new students, to be held the first day of registration.
h) Schedule and chair GEA Executive and general meetings, and conduct GEA elections.
i) Write and present two reports (one each term), on behalf of the GEA members and summarizing GEA events, to the GEC.
j) Coordinate graduate student participation in Departmental job searches.
k) Serve as a representative to the GEC, EGM, and either the Programme or Planning Committee.
l) Attend and, where necessary, assist at all GEA-sponsored social events.
3. The GEA Vice-President shall:
a) Coordinate Orientation events for incoming students. In 2005, 2006, 2007 such organization included sending out a questionnaire to get feedback on students’ interests in order to plan the events for Orientation week.
b) Organize the Big Sibling programme.
c) Prepare or delegate the preparation of the GEA Handbook, and distribute it during registration, as well as coordinate with the website committee or manager to update the Handbook online.
d) Administer or delegate the administration of the contact list for the GEA Tutoring Service.
e) Supervise the counting of the ballots at GEA elections.
f) Chair general meetings in the absence of the President.
g) Coordinate and supervise all aspects of the GEA end-of-term parties (and other possible GEA social events), including publicity and distribution of invitations.
h) Communicate with department on orientation / recruitment initiatives.
i) Serve as a representative to the GEC, EGM, and either the Programme or Planning Committee.
j) Attend and, where necessary, assist at all GEA-sponsored social events.
4. The GEA Treasurer shall:
a) Assume responsibility for all GEA account books and banking transactions.
b) Coordinate the transfer of names on the account and the end of year letter to transfer the account.
c) Prepare a budget of projected expenditures.
d) Submit to the GSU a course union application for the GEA’s head grant cheque.
e) Deposit the head grant cheques.
f) Deliver a financial report to the GEA membership at the first and last meetings of a given academic year and/or when such a report is requested by the membership.
g) Collect receipts and issue cheques.
h) Prepare an end-of-year financial statement for the information of the GSU and GEA.
i) Serve on the English Department’s Travel Funding Committee.
j) Serve as a representative to the GEC and EGM Planning or Program Committees.
k) Attend and, where necessary, assist at all GEA-sponsored social events.
5. The GEA Secretary shall:
a) Maintain the GEA listserv (UTGEA-L@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA) to included current graduate students in the department.
b) Compile the agenda and post it on the GEA listserv (UTGEAL@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA) in advance of meetings.
c) Record the minutes of GEA general meetings and post them on the GEA listserv (UTGEA-L@LISTSERV.UTORONTO.CA).
d) Oversee and monitor the calendar of events with the website committee or manager.
e) Serve as a representative to the GEC and EGM Planning or Program Committees.
f) Attend and, where necessary, assist at all GEA-sponsored social events.
6. The GEA MA, MA in Creative Writing, and First Year PhD Representatives shall:
a) Report GEA events and issues to MA, MA in Creative Writing, and First Year PhD students, and represent their constituents to the GEA at general meetings.
b) Set up and maintain a network of students in their programme/year to ensure communication between the students.
c) Organize or delegate the organization of a social event for the students in the MA programmes (MA and MA in Creative Writing) and in the first year of the PhD programme.
d) Serve as representatives to the GEC, EGM, and any other relevant committees.
e) Attend and, where necessary, assist at all GEA-sponsored social events.
7. The International Students’ Representative shall:
a) Act as a contact for current and incoming foreign students on issues pertaining to international students.
b) Work with the Graduate English Department to help familiarize incoming international students, especially those with non-North American or non- European backgrounds, with the University of Toronto’s academic culture.
c) Write a letter of welcome to incoming international students. In the case where the International Students’ Representative is not available to write the letter, the GEA Executive will appoint another member of the GEA to write the letter.
d) Represent the concerns of international students to the GEA at the general meetings.
e) Attend and, where necessary, assist at all GEA-sponsored social events.
XI. RESPONSIBILITIES OF GEA COMMITTEES
1. The Website Committee or Manager
Either a group or a designated person is responsible for maintaining the GEA website (http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~geawww/). The group or person updates information on the website as needed and maintains the calendar of events of interest to the GEA membership. A single person maintaining the website receives an annual honorarium.
2. The Directory Committee or Manager
Either a group or a designated person is responsible for compiling and organizing the GEA Directory. The group or person sends out calls for the contact information and information on the area of research/interest of the GEA membership, organizes the information into a document, and prints the document for distribution to GEA members. A single person compiling the Directory receives an honorarium.
3. The Coffee Hour Committee
The Coffee Hour Committee organizes the time and location for a regular coffee hour for students and faculty. The committee also publicizes and hosts the coffee hour. The committee is responsible for preparing and serving coffee and tea, and normally purchases, makes, or arranges for someone to make snacks.
4. Other social committees may be struck on an ad hoc basis. In 2007-2008 the GEA had a Pub Committee, which organized the time and location for a regular pub gathering, and was responsible for publicizing and attending the pub events. Without a Pub Committee in a given year, hosting a regular pub evening for the GEA membership is left to the discretion and responsibility of the GEA Executive.
5. Reading Groups
The GEA supports a number of reading groups. The groups are run by students from the GEA membership and are allocated GEA funds annually. A list of these groups is available on the GEA website (http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~geawww/).
APPENDIX A: GEA PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE
The Graduate English Association is deliberately informal in its parliamentary procedure. General meetings are conducted according to basic rules of order, and according to the GEA Constitution.
1. Order of Business
Most agendas proceed in the following manner:
i) Approval of Agenda
ii) Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting
iii) Business Arising from the Minutes
iv) General Announcements
v) Treasurer’s Report
vi) Reports and Funding Requests from Committees, Journals, and Period Reading Groups
vii) Approval of Funding Requests
viii) New Business
At least two Executive officers and at least six general members are required to be present for a general meeting to attain quorum. If a quorum is not attained, no official business (such as approval of funding requests) may be conducted at that meeting.
Technically, a motion should be made and seconded before debate on it begins. The GEA, however, usually engages in discussion before making and voting on a relevant motion. If a member makes a motion he or she did not intend, it may be withdrawn, unless debate on it has already begun, in which case it must be voted on before a new motion can be made. Only one motion may be entertained at a time. A simple majority may pass most motions. Specialized motions include:
Move the Previous Question: cuts off all debate and demands an immediate vote on the motion at hand. Requires a two-thirds vote.
Refer to Committee: defers voting on an issue until a committee has investigated it further and reported back to the membership. Requires a majority vote.
Postpone: moves a motion be postponed until later in the same meeting or until another meeting. (The motion must specify which.) Requires a majority vote.
Adjourn: takes precedence over other motions, is not debatable, and cannot be made by someone who does not have the floor. Requires a majority vote. If there is other business remaining, the Chair may state the motion and ask the mover to withdraw it. If the mover refuses to withdraw the motion, the Chair must immediately call a vote.
In order to speak to a motion or other issue, a member must be recognized by the Chair. In cases where several members want the floor at once, the Chair may announce the names of the next few speakers in order. The GEA has no time limit set on debate, but the Chair may choose to limit debate by cutting it off after a certain time period, by restricting it to members who have not already spoken to the question, or by stressing that speakers should avoid redundancy and stick to the issue at hand. The Chair may choose to end a lengthy debate by calling for a vote. Once a vote is called, debate ends and a vote must be taken.
The votes required for various motions may be found under their respective headings. The Chair must restate the motion before a vote is taken. Many votes (e.g. approval of the minutes) may fall under the rubric of General Consent, that is, a voice vote the outcome of which is determined by the Chair and duly announced before moving on to the next item of business. A member may call for a more formal vote to be taken on any issue, in which case a show of hands must be made and recorded. During elections, voting should proceed by secret ballot. The GEA has no written policy on proxy votes.
When motions are actually made prior to debate, amendments may then be moved and voted on during debate. (The GEA, however, usually thrashes out business during general debate before any formal motion is made.) Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote to pass, and must be publicized a week prior to the meeting at which the vote is to occur.
Elections of the GEA Executive take place at a spring meeting of the GEA, which is publicized well in advance. Balloting for elections is secret. If a nominee cannot attend, another member may represent him or her. All other representatives are elected at the first fall meeting, at which time additional elections may be held in order to fill any vacant positions within the GEA. All positions are elected by majority vote.
Revised May 2008 by Lara Okihiro, Fiona Coll, Marybeth Curtin, Camilla Eckbo, Jennifer O’Kell, Laurel Ryan, Barton Saunders, Laura Stenberg, Adele Wilson, and Jacqueline Wylde.
i Graduate Student Union By-laws, revised 1998. By-law 5.2 states:
(a) Course Unions shall have representatives on the General Council in accordance to the following formula:
(i) 10 to 100 full-time equivalent Students, 1 Member;
(ii) 101 to 200 full-time equivalent Students, 2 Members;
(iii) 201 to 1000 full-time equivalent Students, 3 Members; and
(iv) 1001 and over full-time equivalent Students, 4 Members.
In accordance with Article 5.2(a) above:
(v) A full-time equivalent student is defined as one (1) full-time enrolled student or two (2) part-time enrolled students.
ii Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3902 By-laws, revised 2006. By-law 8.1 states: In each bargaining unit, the members in each employing department shall be entitled to elect one (1) steward for every 50 bargaining-unit members, or fraction thereof, employed in the department.
APPENDIX B: GEA EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY VOTING PROCEDURE:
The Graduate English Association will occasionally need to act in response to external events that impact GEA members at times when it is not possible to call a general meeting. When the proposed action requires a swift response, or a response during the time of year when many students are away from campus and unable to attend an emergency meeting (after the final GEA meeting of either term, or during the Summer term), the GEA executive may conduct an online vote to determine the will of the GEA membership as in any GEA meeting vote requiring simple majority.
1. Order of Business:
The vote must proceed in the following manner:
i) Presentation of the action in question to members via GEA listserv, the GEA Facebook page, and the GEA website
ii) Consultation period of at least one week where students may voice their concerns in a public forum (GEA Facebook page, GEA website via the secretary for students without Facebook, or who wish to remain anonymous)
iii) Voting period of at least five days. The voting period may overlap with the consultation period but consultation must occur for at least two days before the start of the voting period.
iv) Because of the need for swift action, there is no option for amendment of the proposed action once the voting period has begun. The Executive may, however, choose to further stagger the consultation and voting periods so that the proposed motion can incorporate membership input from the consultation period.
At least two Executive officers and at least six general members are required to vote for the poll to attain quorum. If a quorum is not attained, the Executive may extend voting for an additional week.
A motion is considered passed if it attains majority consent with quorum.
The Executive will employ a mechanism whereby the names of voters are collected to ensure that only members vote and that they only cast one vote each. The vote will be anonymous where deemed necessary by the executive.
5. Amendments and Executive Recall
Neither amendments to the GEA constitution nor recall of an executive officer or delegate may be made via extra-parliamentary vote.
Should a proposed motion obtain quorum and assent of the majority, the GEA executive may consider that it has the mandate to act in accordance with the motion. The result must be published to the membership via the GEA listserv, GEA website, and GEA Facebook page, and reported officially to members at the next planned GEA meeting.