Call to Order

The regular meeting for the DTSA was called to order at 5:03pm on October 30, 2020 via Zoom.



  • Taylor Culbert (President)
  • Ryan McKinney (Officer of Curriculum and Exams)
  • Ruijiao Dong (GC Representative)
  • Joned Suryatmoko (Officer of Professionalization)
  • Maria Litvan (Second Vice President)
  • Jasmeene Francois (First Vice President)
  • Jacquelyn Marie Shannon (Secretary-Treasurer)
  • Gracia Shin (DSC Representative)
  • Kiera Bono (Officer of Awards and Admissions)



  • Cen Liu (Officer of Digital Initiatives)
  • Adam El Sayigh (International Student’s Representative)


Approval of Agenda

TC motioned to approve the agenda. Agenda was unanimously approved as distributed.


Approval of Minutes

TC motioned to approve the minutes. Minutes approved with edits. (in absence of 




President, Taylor Culbert
  • I have been working on updates to the Constitution, and could use some additional input from others, but will save that for a future meeting when we have less going on. In our most recent exec meeting, Peter said to remind everyone to keep checking in on one another. Also, there are lots of grants and fellowships available around now, so it is a good time to apply. Peter is still pushing to open the building and library, but it is unclear when that will happen. At the open exec in December we will be making a motion to get rid of the GRE, which will then have to be approved by admin upstairs. He and Erika are also working to shorten the timeframe between 1st and 2nd exam, so that more students will be able to complete the program in 5-6 years. I will be organizing a “Work-in-Progress” day for the department (a sort of mini, informal conference) – need to check in during the meeting with the board about dates. We will also be having a game night next week on Nov. 5. 


First Vice President, Jasmeene Francois
  • The game  night will be on Nov. 5th. It’ll be a flexible event because of the election. It can be a nice breather to play some games or a venting session. I would like to brainstorm ways we can stay connected in the winter. It is colder so people may feel less motivated to go outside. Also, we have to keep the rising cases in mind. 


Second Vice President, Maria Litvan
  • [Nothing to report prior to meeting]


Secretary-Treasurer, Jacquelyn Shannon
  • Update on budget related news from the DGSC via Gracia: Given our enrollment numbers, our department should have a minimum of $280, though the DGSC is going to try and raise our budget line to $560. This potential increase is not final, however, and won’t be until plenary votes on the budget and approves it this Friday. We’ve been advised to presume we have $280 to work with and then if we get more we can reevaluate. I’ve plugged in these numbers so that we can try to approve a budget this week.
  • Taylor mentioned that it seems increasingly unlikely that we will have any in-person events in the spring, which might mean that we can make the budget work without needing to do a whole lot more fundraising. But there is still some unknown around what we need.
  • Deeps reached out on behalf of the DTSA Conference Committee about funding. We have $100 set aside for the conference as of right now.


Digital Initiatives Officer, Cen Liu
  • [Nothing to report prior to meeting]


Professionalization Representative, Joned Suryatmoko
  • Two professionalization events were conducted on Oct 1st and 15th, and the topic respectively were on Research grants (Cohn Lortel) and Resources/ Guidance for International Students.
  • Along with the event on Oct 1, Director of HRPP (Human Research Protection Program) Rebecca Banchik attended and introduced HRPP.
  • Whereas, one workshop on professional development was conducted on Oct 29, focusing on CV Development facilitated by Prof. James Wilson. Another workshop will be held on Nov 5, focusing on cover letters


Admission and Awards Representative, Kiera Bono 
  • Peter and Patricia sent me the Open House 2020 postcard, so I sent it to the DTSA listserv, some other folks, prospective students who have already expressed interest, and Ruijiao posted on Facebook and Instagram about it/made a Facebook event. Please spread the word to your respective networks! Peter has said that there is a lot less interest in our program this year, so that worries me a bit. I will be continuing to blast the event to several academic programs and artistic institutions/acquaintances over the next few days, and I hope you will all keep sharing it as well (and feel free to connect any prospective students directly with me if they want to chat with a current student).
  • Jess Applebaum, Kirara Sato, and Ashley Marinaccio will be our three student speakers at Open House, and Hillary Miller will be giving the faculty address.
  • I have spoken with several prospective students over the past month or so, and they seem lovely!
Curriculum and Exams Representative, Ryan McKinney
  • [Nothing to report prior to meeting]


International Student Representative, Adam El Sayigh
  • [Nothing to report prior to meeting]


DSC Program Representative, Gracia Shin
  • I went to DGSC plenary meetings on Sept. 25 and Oct. 17. On Sept. 25, President Robin Garrell shared information about students funding/working conditions regarding COVID as well as the Graduate Center’s current position regarding international students’ travel/funding. On Oct. 17, DGSC invited Elaine Montilla, Assistant Vice President for Information and Technology. 
  • I have uploaded meeting minutes abridged for the DTSA meetings here. Among those, I share some points that are relatable to last meeting’s agenda below:

Anti-Racism Program Promotion:

      • The DGSC Committee is also preparing to embark on their own anti-racism committee. Other programs are making their own. (e.g., computer science, philosophy)


International students: 

  • Fellowship bulk checks should have arrived by the end of September, yet some international students haven’t received their money yet.
      • If you have information about your department (how many students are currently abroad and not being paid), please email Cristina Elena Pardo with their contacts.
      • Anthropology department have organized and drafted a petition for Support for international students


Info and Tech:

      • GC IT Team/DGSC are considering refunding some amount of tech fee or providing printing cards due to our non-access to printers.


Graduate Council and Alumni Engagement Representative, Ruijiao Dong 
  • The Graduate Council convened on Oct. 21. Other than some general voting processes, the council talked about some reactivation plan for the GC, though the 2021 Spring Semester will be very likely online; some budget difficulties COVID has caused; and possible admission suspension, though there were no concrete decisions made that directly matter to us.




  • Approve budget (no fundraising needed?)
    • Question about 
    • Can the extra amount from the budget be given to the Booth Award since we won’t likely be receiving money from DSC
    • Clarification: Last year the DSC said that they wouldn’t be able to support two events that happen in the same department (so either the conference or the Booth Award)
    • Taylor: we may actually end up with more funds, depending on how the events end up looking (given that we are online)
    • We might be able to raise it to 150 or 200 per event, but we still need to hear from the DSC to see what they are providing us.
    • Waiting to hear from the DSC still
    • The Graduate Center does not have a budget this semester, they are operating month to month, setting aside 
    • RD: the online events might not be that expensive because they are online and we might not need to even apply for additional funding
    • ML: This year’s Booth Award is Diana Taylor, we are going to play with the idea of the archive and repertoire, trying to do both an online and live/embodied event. So ideally we would have resources for that. The in person component would be outdoors
    • TC: Hard to know what will be in 6months, many people in the program are not in the city any more or moving out of the city.
    • ML: still just speculation but want to put on the table
    • 5:23pm budget unanimously approved 


  • Work-in-Progress Day 
    • Peter’s idea but TC is organizing it
    • A mini-conference day within the department
    • 2 different types of presentations
    • 10 minute imaginings (not having to be fully fleshed out ideas)
    • 20 minute presentations (more complete, in the form of traditional conference papers)
    • 2 sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening
    • email will be going out to everyone with more information 
    • Possible dates: Tuesday, November 24th or Friday, December 4th
    • Issue with 11/24 = near Thanksgiving, more folks with coursework or travel might have conflicts
    • Timing of the even would be based on interest & participation
    • Timing also complex because of international students- idea proposed to skew towards a late afternoon and evening panel 
    • Friday feeling like a better option, more more likely to have something to present. 
    • Board decided on Friday. 
    • RD: raised the question that it might feel stressful to present, would prefer a more open mic more casual format
    •  TC reminded that it is completely optional, but also that this is why we are proposing different formats (10min imaginings are more casual)
    • TC: it will be a little more formal than Greenroom hanging out, but might give newer students a chance to learn what higher level students are working on


  • Curriculum and Exams questions
    • RM: Met with Erika Thursday to talk curriculum and exam issues, addressing some left over items that weren’t resolved because of the pandemic shut-down
    • Questions about the student survey and teaching evaluations
    • Survey- supposed to go out every year, was really long (45 questions?)
    • Are these questions helpful? data isn’t exactly helpful
    • Erika wants students to have a voice and feel like they have input into the program but it isn’t clear what the best route for doing this is
    • idea for an anonymous Google Folder
    • How important is an anonymous data collection to students? Or is it more valuable to get everyone 
    • TC: Needs to be anonymous from the faculty, but not necessarily between the students.
    • Idea to have differentiated surveys by level (level 1, 2, 3 have different questions)
    • Erika has suggested wanting ideally a space and environment in the program where students feel comfortable speaking with faculty without fear of repercussions
    • RM: Do we feel as students that our input is valued? Is it worth creating a survey if we feel like the input is being ignored?
    • TC: Maybe the DTSA board has some power in this regard?
    • RM: It has historically been inconsistent, but worth trying to fix it.
    • Re: teaching evaluations- typically one sheet of paper handed out on the last day of classes that people write out by hand
    • Erika & RM want it to be an electronic form. But will students actually do it? And what questions does it need
    • RD: We need to run it by Patricia because records are stored with her and the form as it stands needs to be approved
    • RM: We don’t do anything with the form itself, just need to give Erika a recommendation.
    • What kinds of questions are helpful: more open questions rather than specific?
    • Do we want an explicit question that will address de-colonizing the curriculum? Teaching styles?
    • Take-away/next steps for RM: one survey for students still in coursework, and one survey for post-coursework, making electronic course evaluation and adding a question about decolonization
    • JS: Perhaps faculty can send out an email after reviewing survey responses to 
    • TC: Peter and Erika are trying to condense the timeline for field statements and booklists
    • RM: Relates to the question of placement of the advanced research course. Maybe there needs to be a series of workshops that are geared around field statements and booklists so that students aren’t waiting for that class to do that work and there are opportunities outside of that class to get that information
    • RM: Part of the issue here is that our program is not congruous with other programs and students need to have a chance to do the process faster
    • RD: Maybe rather than condensing, thinking about it as more flexibility, of deciding whether or not to use that extra time
    • RM: The idea is trying to get away from the gray language 
    • RD: We need to look at the language in the handbook and clarify what the timeline means
    • TC: Is there a possibility of making the course a year-long or 2 semester course? 
    • RM: It gets tricky because of faculty teaching loads and schedules, but it’s worth bringing up
    • The advanced research courses need to be taught by core faculty, not by consortium faculty
    • KB: Is the question about the dissertation proposal process still on the table? There was a conversation around the length and timing of dissertation proposals.
    • RM: Yes, that is a conversation, mostly 



  • Amendments to DTSA Constitution 
    • TC still working on them, will be sending out some edits to the board for review, comments/feedback
    • No rush (want to pass before the end of the year)



  • JF: Game Night is next Thursday (Game Night but also flexible, can turn into anything people are needing to process next week)
  • Jess A: Concerns from the 5th years about funding, feeling of fear and panic that the department is ignoring them or not providing enough support, needs to be a tone shift and more attention. Also concerns about 1st year international students. 
  • TC: Regarding international students, there are people at the GC that are working on this specifically and have more information. There is less we can do as a department, but for 5th years
  • ML: Many people will be impacted financially from this, is there a way that we could develop a system of support?
  • TC: There is currently an emergency fund through the GC
  • Students who were funded from elsewhere essentially allowed us to fund more students from the last two cohorts
  • RD: Could ask for more transparency with how enrollment and funding is happening
  • KB: PhD Mutual Aid? 
  • JF: A susu? (Everyone puts money in a pot and it is distributed). Worth looking into how other organizations are doing things like this to support each other.
  • KB: an underground crew of folks applying for grants and redistributing those funds to folks who aren’t able to apply for the grants themselves?
  • RM: List of imaginary grants that can be applied for listed on the program page that don’t seem to exist. Would be great to know if these are real things.
  • JA: Can the funding currently allocated for travel be reallocated to something else to support students who need it?
  • We don’t have enough funds in the department to fund international students
  • Most funding listed on the department website is not organized or allocated by our department
  • What about the budget of the Segal Center? Can there be some transparency with what that program is doing and whether there can be, with the shift to online, more support of the PhD students? The centers actually are, from our understanding, going month-to-month and at the risk of being cut.
  • JF: requesting more clarity regarding the need of 5th years and the tone of emails. 
  • JA: Doesn’t seem to be a real-world response to the realities of the 5th years going into their 6th year. The academic world is changing and the job market prospects are extra unclear.
  • TC: We should incorporate alt-track careers into professionalisation. Will mention to Joned
  • JS: Maybe it’s about opening up a space for emotional processing of the reality of the situation, a space for communicating in a way that communicates more support than an email
  • RD: The Publics Lab initiative call that Erika emailed out. Can’t guarantee that we can get the money, but if we can, there will be an opportunity for these kinds of issues- wanting it to support anti-racism committee but also possible to support emotional health activities



Meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:44pm.