VIII – Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution
Should grievances of any sort arise, the student is free to contact the Graduate Director and/or the Department Chairperson to find an effective way to solve his or her problem. When needed, the Graduate Committee may be called upon to resolve disputes. Fo rguidance on these matters, the student may refer to “Graduate Rights and Responsibilities,” which is available within “Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide.”
Section IX-Work Related Policies
Through the awarding of Assistantships, the Department of History seeks to attract promising students into its graduate program, to secure their services for its instructional program, and to further their professional education. There are two types of graduate assistantships awarded by the Department of History: regular and guaranteed.
- Regular appointments of graduate assistants are made by the Chair on behalf of the Departmental faculty, which acts on the advice of the Graduate Affairs. The principal appointments for each academic year are announced by the end of March on the basis of an annual competition. Students applying to the Department for the first time and students who hold an assistantship compete on a basis of equal opportunity. All information supporting an application for consideration must be submitted no later than February 1 each year for continuing students. In addition to the annual awards, supplementary appointments may be made at any time during the school year when demonstrated need for them exists and funds are available. In such cases the Chair acts on the advice of the Graduate Director.
- The Department participates in the University-wide fellowship programs including University Distinguished Fellowships and University Enrichment Fellowships. These assistantships are long-term packages.
- The Department also offers multi-year funding packages for some students as a recruitment tool. These funding commitments are contingent upon adequate progress in the student’s program of study. All students who are awarded multi-year packages, both from the University and from the Department, are required to submit annual statements of progress to the Graduate Affairs committee by February 1.
- The elements of each application (or re-application) for an assistantship are:
- Academic records, including all relevant transcripts, course evaluations by departmental faculty, and test scores (e.g., TOEFL and/or GRE).
- Other evidence of academic progress (e.g., timely submission of Guidance Committee reports; demonstrated competence in foreign languages; awards and honors).
- Current letters of recommendation from persons able to judge the applicant’s recent performance (where a Guidance Committee has been formed, one letter shall be from its Chairperson); it is the applicant’s responsibility to secure the submission of these letters.
- In the case of re-application: 1) reports on performance as an assistant, whether in discussion sections or as a reader, and 2) a statement from the assistant about their work area the previous year and their assignment preferences for the coming year.
- The evaluation of this material by the Committee will be done in a way that insures that adequate attention is paid to all salient features of an applicant’s record as it stands when applications are closed. While no single feature of that record is likely to be absolutely determinative, it should be understood that the Committee will:
- Regard cumulative grade-point averages which fall below 3.5 for graduate work and/or the attainment of any grade below 3.0 as evidence that the applicant’s academic performance is not clearly superior in quality;
- Expect the prompt removal of deferred grades and Incompletes and regard the presence of deferred grades or Incompletes in regular courses as evidence of less than satisfactory academic progress;
- Regard with disapprobation evidence of a dilatory approach to the fulfillment of foreign language requirements (or their equivalents).
- Assign considerable weight to reports of below-average performance on graduate assistant assignments;
- Construe failure of the comprehensive examinations as evidence of inadequate academic achievement within the terms set by the Guidance Committee.
- Assistantship duties normally take one of three forms: the assistant may be assigned to lead discussion sections in one of the introductory survey courses, may serve as a grader in an undergraduate course with a large enrollment; or serve as the principal instructor for a course. In any case the assistant is expected faithfully to carry out the duties assigned by the course instructor. For half-time assistants these duties will normally average 20 hours of work each week. It rests with each instructor to make clear at the beginning of each semester his/her expectations with respect to such features of the assistant’s work as the keeping of office hours, other counseling activities, and the timely handling of papers and examinations. Assistants are required to attend lecture sections of the courses to which they have been assigned, even when they may previously have assisted for the same professor in the same course. While every reasonable effort will be made to match assignments with the academic interests of the assistants, in practice students must expect to be assigned to courses lying outside their preferred fields of study when enrollment and other considerations make this necessary. The failure of assistants to carry out assigned duties is regarded by the Department as prejudicial to the effective discharge of its instructional and administrative functions. It may therefore result in immediate termination of an assistantship appointment.
- The terms which govern the appointment of graduate assistants are set by the College of Social Sciences and contain the following important provisions:
- Appointment to a graduate assistantship for all or part of a given academic year carries no presumption with regard to preferred treatment when reappointment is requested;
- The appointment of graduate assistants is made at Level I, II and III as determined by the University contract with the GEU. The MSU-GEU contract is available on the Graduate School’s homepage.
- Stipends at all levels are set annually to take account of the changing pay structure within the University.
- The University and College have certain procedures and regulations relating to graduate assistantships which are binding on this Department.
- Graduate assistantships are available only to graduate students who are actively pursuing graduate degree programs and who are making satisfactory progress toward their degrees, meeting the University and College academic standards.
- Graduate assistants must be registered each semester in which they hold assistantships. The minimum and maximum credits loads are as follows: For a half-time graduate assistant, minimum enrollment is 6 credits for non-ABD doctoral students; 1 credit for ABD doctoral students (including credits in HST 999; maximum enrollment is 12 credits (excluding credits in HST 999).
- With the exception of summer term, when a 3-credit minimum registration is allowed for all types of assistants, no deviation from the minimum requirements listed above is permitted.
- In meeting the credit requirements, graduate assistants should be enrolled in courses that are recognized as being of graduate level unless the student’s department or school has granted written permission for course work constituting an exception to this rule. Visitor credits do not count as part of a graduate assistant’s credit load.
- Graduate assistants are eligible for certain benefits from the University, including tuition waiver for up to 9 credits, health insurance, and matriculation fees.
- The Department of History requires all first-time teaching assistants to enroll in its biweekly Pedagogy Workshop during Fall semester of their first year teaching. Students with previous teaching experience are encouraged to participate in the workshop, but not required to do so. In situations where a student’s class schedule conflicts with the pedagogy workshop, arrangements must be made with the Workshop convener to obtain copies of materials distributed at each session.
- Summer Research Fellowships. The Department offers a limited number of competitive research and language-training grants for use during summer months. Students interested in applying for summer research fellowships are required to:
- Submit a research proposal, travel itinerary, and budget to the graduate committee by April 1;
- Submit all receipts to the graduate secretary within one month after the end of the granting period;
- Produce a written research document during the semester following receipt of the research grant. This document may take the form of a grant proposal, a dissertation prospectus, a conference paper, scholarly article, or dissertation chapter;
- Take part in a biweekly writing workshop with other grant recipients during Fall semester.