A plea for assistance- twenty-first century style
A few ground rules: both graduate students and faculty wander past here* and both types of perspectives are probably valid. That said, I am particularly appreciative of the faculty who are nice enough to offer advice. Secondly, Jaine is obviously concerned so she deserves serious responses. At the same time, folks who are embedded in a situation may not always see it objectively. If you think Jaine needs to calm down, it's okay to say so, but do so constructively. Otherwise, anything goes.
And so, without further ado, Jaine:
2nd year grad student here, and I could use a little advice about how to/whether to proceed with voicing concerns to my departmental chair.
The dept. got rid of comprehensive exams last year and replaced them with annual student evaluations. Evaluations are supposed to be objective, but they are not. We're now evaluated on personal grounds (e.g., appearance).
This year, the dept. watered down the curriculum more by getting rid of the thesis option for the MA. We were not even notified about the change. I have a lot of concerns about that--one of the more personal ones being that when I apply for the Ph.D. program, I will potentially be up against persons from other, better MA programs who actually got to complete a thesis. On the flip side, I worry that if I choose to go and apply elsewhere, admissions committees will laugh at my "master's paper."
Besides the curriculum, I've recently become aware that our grad studies director has a habit of manipulating grad school policies/deadlines in an effort to crack the whip and instill fear in students. Students are currently being threatened about losing funding and being removed from the program, and the reasoning for all of that is based on manipulated policies and new, undocumented departmental policies.
I have been told that this kind of stuff doesn't happen so much in graduate departments. And I want to raise the issues, but fear reprisal from both the grad studies director and the department chair. It is my belief that the department is trampling on the well-being of students as well as our futures. It's also my belief that graduate education takes enough toll on students without the added stress of the abuses of power currently going unchecked.
Without getting into any further details, I'd like to ask those of you with knowledge of grad school politics if voicing concerns is too risky of an action to consider?
So? What does everyone think? Operators, as they say, are standing by.
* For reasons that continue to elude me.