Call to Order

The regular meeting for the DTSA was called to order at 6:03pm on September 24, 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 Elsayigh (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
  • From exec meeting with Peter on 9/11: Announcement about whether next semester will be online or not should be coming “soon.” He said though that whatever decision they make they could always change their minds later. Peter has been pushing for the GC building to open, especially the library (for book pick-up, like NYPL and BPL are doing). Not clear if/when that will happen. 
  • Elections for the faculty committees will be happening soon (this doesn’t really impact us). 
  • There is a push in the administration to establish programs around diversity, equity and inclusion. I mentioned to Peter that we were thinking of forming a committee of that sort and he thought we could probably get funding for it from upstairs. We will need to give Peter a write-up of what we are proposing, define the outcomes, and ask the department for resources, which he can take higher up. He recommends using the language “diversity, equity, and inclusion” somewhere in the description.
  • Other news: The visiting students who would have come to the Segal Center this fall are postponing until travel is possible again, but some of them are sitting in virtually on Marvin’s class and Peter will extend same offer for his class in the spring. 
  • I created a virtual drop-in space on Zoom called “The Green Room” that hopefully people can drop in on to see who is around. 


First Vice President, Jasmeene Francois
  • The New Students Happy Hour went well! I believe we had 17 people in attendance which is great! 
  • There have been some floating discussions about socially distanced in person meetings in the park. Perhaps this can happen in October before the cold really settles in. 


Second Vice President, Maria Litvan
  • Email asking for nominations sent. 


Secretary-Treasurer, Jacquelyn Shannon
  • Spoke with Gracia about any news from the DGSC regarding our fund allotment this year. She said that the first DGCS plenary meeting is this Friday, so if anything regarding the budget comes up, she will let us know. According to the reply she got, it sounds like they will figure out the crystalized budget for each program after the first plenary meeting in which they re-calculate/revise their budget. We may need to hold off on approving our budget until we have these numbers.
Digital Initiatives Officer, Cen Liu
  • Having some issues updating the website, spoke with Ash for log-in information.
  • To follow-up with Jacquelyn about posting minutes.


Professionalization Representative, Joned Suryatmoko
  • The first professionalization event was done last week (Sept 17). Only one first year student didn’t join due to the time difference. The event was also recorded and can be accessed through google drive.
  • The zoom account used for the previous event is still Patricia’s account (Theatre Program). This week I have set up my own CUNYzoom account that can be used to host the next professionalization events. 
  • The next one will be on Oct 1 (Students roundtable on research grants/ Cohn Lortel) with Prof. Marvin Carlson.
Admission and Awards Representative, Kiera Bono 
  • Met with Peter- he’s going to reach out for the open house postcard design person
  • Will be sending out an email & postcards
  • Working on list for reaching out to prospects.
  • Will be in touch with current students and alumni about who to reach out to  
  • Question: what faculty member should we reach out to to give a talk at the open house?
  • (Suggestion to reach out to Hillary)
  • Will be drafting suggestions for updating our website


Curriculum and Exams Representative, Ryan McKinney
  • Email has been sent to the DTSA to form a reading group for students working through their book lists in preparation for the Second Exam. The reading group hopes to start meeting the week of 9/28. 
  • I compiled all of the notes from Amir’s two years as Curriculum & Exams Rep. and created a list of ongoing initiatives that were never entirely resolved and shared that document with Erika. She and I are going to meet in October to strategize prior to the larger Curriculum Committee meeting in November.


International Student Representative, Adam Elsayigh
  • Doctoral and Graduate Students’ Council conducting survey on international students abroad and not being paid.


DSC Program Representative, Gracia Shin
  • Communicated with the DGSC funding coordinator about our program fund and spoke with Jacquelyn about it (further information stated under the Secretary/treasurer’s report). 
  • The DGSC is holding their first plenary meeting on 9/25. If there are any questions our program may have regarding the DGSC, we may discuss those in our meeting, and I will bring them to the DGSC plenary meeting.


Graduate Council and Alumni Engagement Representative, Ruijiao Dong 




Approve budget?
  • Will be pushing back until DTSA numbers come in


Discuss Booth Award/Conference/2nd VP role + Amendments to Constitution 
  • Nick last year suggested that the 2nd VP role should be amended to be an orchestrator/coordinator between booth award and graduate conference committee
  • Would not be a chair of either committee, but would rather be a go-between the 2 committees.
  • Needs to be written up as an amendment and presented to the DTSA board
  • Must be sponsored by a majority of the board
  • Put up to vote to the entire DTSA and needs to pass with a simple majority, with 10% student pop responding
  • For next meeting: need to draft the amendment
  • Maria raised concern that even if we create an amendment, the issue with funding will still be an issue
  • Ruijao says that it wasn’t as big of an issue and that we should be able to 
  • Gracia: The DSC last year said they won’t give the money to the Booth award
  • Kiera: never received a check request last year from either the booth award or conference. There is a separate program called DGSC. There is (or should be) still money left from last year? 
  • Gracia should have access to reimbursement money if anyone needs reimbursement (JS needs to clarify)
  • Taylor: We think that the program allocation funds from last year are already accounted for in the budget.
  • Ruijao: The DSC allocated money differently to different programs. The money that the conference received didn’t go through the DGSC board, it came from the DSC. But having one person
  • Ryan: concerned about the labor for the person who will be doing that position. We need to make sure that it is a coordinator position. We also need to put systems into place for establishing those committees.
  • Ruijao: The problem is more about the conference and less about the booth award (because it is newer) The organizer of the conference is not on the DTSA board and so that is where some of the confusion is. 
  • Taylor: Part of the intention here is to reduce the labor for the 2nd VP- helping the two committees coordinate funds, space; etc
  • Booth award and conference committee would each have their own chair
  • As it stands right now, the 2nd VP role is a huge amount of labor
  • Maria- its a big labor ask to have to come up with a couple thousand dollars as 2nd VP
  • Taylor: This issue has been addressed. Consensus is that peter should put up the money 
  • In a normal circumstance, all of these things would be going through the treasurer. Usually only handles the DTSA related funding (not for the conference or booth award)
  • Kiera: DSC rep is not responsible for deciding who gets the program allocation (last year this was a little confusing)
  • Taylor: There are multiple places in the constitution where the language contradicts itself. It could use some updating. (for example, there is supposed to be a website committee that is chaired by the Digital Initiatives Officer. (Not sure that this needs to exist, hasn’t really happened for a while, not the best use of our resources, especially given we want to create an anti-racism committee.)
  • Taylor: will make edits and then send out to board for approval or suggestions.
  • Taylor: will draft language for amendment for the new 2nd VP role and send to board for edits/approval.


Formation of anti-racism committee 
  • University is asking all departments to create committees, shared PDF guidelines “Tips on Forming Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committees”
  • Using this language in forming the committee might mean we could get funding for it.
  • Peter asking if we’re willing to have faculty members on the committee (Peter suggested the EO be on the committee)
  • TC proposing that we formally create a committee, draft a few sentences for what it would be tonight in the hopes of having something to share with 
  • Ryan: We should add different language in addition to what CUNY has shared. For example, adding anti-racism language
  • Should be at least 2 faculty members. Other should be asked, elected, or voted in by the DTSA.
  • Suggestion that it be deputy EO, but also don’t want to put too much on them
  • Student should be chair of committee (so that it doesn’t become a faculty run thing)
  • Ruij: What will this committee do? 
  • Taylor: wanting to keep it open for the committee itself to determine to an extent
  • Kiera: also recognizing there are many examples listed in the PDF
  • There is value in having this be a student-led committee.
  • Ryan: What is the place of this committee in our program? Would making it be yet another branch of this organization enable it to succeed and do the things that we want it/need it to be?
  • Jasmeene: the difference is that a faculty committee takes a year to implement
  • Maria: agrees that maybe this is worth considering to make it more serious to initiate structural change 
  • Could we start with hiring someone (like the person Ryan suggested)
  • Jasmeene: she also has facilitators that work under her
  • Ryan: art equity is also another group to look into for trainings. Can we spend this time, this year, trying out some initiatives and figure out what we think the work of the committee should be and then later we’ll be able to hand over to the faculty what we want the committee to be
  • TC: what would the formation of this committee look like now? Reach out to other students who aren’t on the board.
  • Ruijao: a lot of the points on the PDF are things we are already doing on the board. So we can use this time perhaps to assess the work that the DTSA board is doing already.
  • Maybe whoever chairs the committee could join board meetings every so often (rather than creating a new position for it, because its hard enough to fill positions)
  • Adam: rather than having a position, we should all be consistently reflecting on our own anti-racist work
  • Ruij: suggestion to have a rotating member from the board who is able to be part of the committee?
  • Taylor: The work of this committee will likely look very different than our own goals. We can continue thinking and talking about how we are 
  • Confusion around whether we follow the constitution and create an adhoc committee to the DTSA? Doesn’t need to be completely outside of the DTSA, staying in conversation with the board would be a good idea.
  • Kiera: as far as labor goes, this is labor I’m going to be doing anyway. Also understand the value of it being separate. 
  • TC: we don’t need to (and shouldn’t) take the PDF as a prescription
  • TC: Committee would be more organizing workshops, events through the Segal center; etc (and not necessarily all about what we are doing on the board)
  • TC: not sure exactly how to navigate the red tape, formally form a committee
  • Jasmeene: do we want to have the language that peter proposed using (borrowed from the PDF)
  • Taylor: agree that diversity, equity, inclusion are a bit worn out. 
  • Ryan: suggestion to use at least one of them in the title
  • Jasmeene: decolonize is also going into the direction of being a tired word. If we are going to use that word, we need to be true to what that calls for, which is burning things down. 
  • Adam: A lot of the anti-racism trainers I have worked with have explicitly said that diversity, equity, and inclusion are rejected now as “placeholders” or euphemisms for the actual issue which is structural racism
  • Ruijao: would using the term anti-racism exclude gender and sexuality considerations
  • Jasmeene: we need to be narrow in the focus and intersectional in approach
  • Maria: if we want to focus on 
  • TC: should we call it “an exploratory anti-racism committee”?
  • Ryan: we commit to the work and if through that work that changes, we say that and implement the changes. Need to also return to this term ‘systemic’.
  • Jasmeene: looked up other examples online for language options
  • TC: Tonight’s goal is to come up with a title 
  • Ryan: “Exploratory Committee for Anti-Racism and Justice”
  • Kiera: What do we mean by “Justice?” I like it but I don’t know that we can actually do that?
  • Adam: my problem with the word justice is that it is so neutral. I prefer decolonize because it is more politically charged and it captures more of the international 
  • Jasmeene: if we use it we need to not let it become like words like diversity
  • Gracia: we need to have actual steps of what we can do towards that if were going to use it
  • ryan: decolonization is an inherently elitist word, not used outside of the academy.
  • TC proposed vote: “Exploratory Committee for Anti-Racism.” Majority voted in the affirmative.
  • Ruij: the purpose should be more how do we let people know that they are needed and what can be done.
  • TC: we can leave it pretty open ended. I can talk to Peter about faculty serving on the committee
  • Cen: I like the idea of having more public facing aspects (workshops; etc)



DTSA Fundraising
  • We will need to leave this for next meeting due to time limits





Meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:54pm.