As executives of the Trent Graduate Students’ Association, located at Traill College, we feel it is paramount that we respond to the President’s announcement of the Traill Review.
We echo concerns raised by the students interviewed in the follow-up article, especially those directed at the transparency and independence of the review process.
This review is being done not by a committee composed of various stakeholders at Trent, but instead by a single reviewer with seemingly close ties to the President. We are apprehensive that the review
process may not be as independent as the President has promised.
With that said, we do recognize the importance of change at Traill College and we take this review as an opportunity to come together as a collective to discuss our vision for the college; to reevaluate what is working at Traill and what can be improved. Our hope is that the review will be a fair one and that the graduate student perspective will be heavily considered in the final report.
We also wanted to draw attention to a perspective that we found lacking from the previous comments addressed by students in the follow-up Arthur article: that is, the importance of graduate student spaces at Trent University. Traill College is the designated graduate student college at the university, and in a university that is increasingly undergraduate in focus, we feel that it is absolutely vital to emphasize the value and importance of our
defined graduate student spaces.
Whether or not the current use of Traill College as a graduate student space can be optimized and made more equitable for all graduate students is something that we hope is addressed through this review process, but we feel that one of the key points that needs to be emphasized in the review is the value of graduate student spaces at Trent.
The graduate focus of Traill serves as a precious recruitment tool for attracting graduate students to the university, and in order to continue to entice a strong pool of graduate researchers the university must continue to recognize the value of graduate student spaces.
The ranking of Trent as a top undergraduate institution could not be achieved without its graduate students, who in turn work as teaching assistants and serve as valuable links between students and professors.
The presence of graduate student TAs is critical for decreasing class sizes, while still maintaining quality education, hence graduate students are absolutely vital for the support and success of the undergraduate student body.
Moreover, graduate students contribute to the university research ranking, and generate significant revenue from the government for the institution.
In addition, Trent graduate students pay some of the highest tuition fees of graduate students across Ontario, so with the amount of revenue generated by graduate students at the university, it is crucial that the university recognize the importance of its graduate students by also acknowledging the worth of graduate spaces on campus.
In speaking to graduate students at the college, many have identified Traill as one of the defining incentives for choosing to study at Trent University, and several students have expressed how Traill has played a crucial role in maintaining their sanity and mental health while completing their studies. Graduate students often face periods of isolation, especially after completing their coursework, and Traill College helps remedy this by providing designated spaces for graduate students to meet, thereby serving as a vital tool for our social support.
The small, collegiate community at Traill College also allows students from across different faculties to come together to discuss their research; the college facilitates a bridging of the gap between these various disciplines.
This emphasis on graduate student spaces is not to undermine the importance of undergraduates who also call Traill home.
This undergraduate presence at Traill is vital to the distinct energy of the college. Traill’s focus on academics is not offered to the same degree at Trent’s other undergraduate colleges, making Traill a unique space for undergraduates who value its quiet study spaces and studious atmosphere.
The TGSA considers those undergraduate students who affiliate with Traill (as well as those who simply love and value Traill) as important stakeholders and allies in this process, and we want to work with these students for constructing a vision for the College going forward.
Through this review process, we hope to remind the university administration of the obligations that it has to its graduate students by drawing attention to the absolute necessity of graduate student spaces at Trent University and we hope that these considerations are heavily weighed during the review.
Laura Thursby, TGSA President
Alison Fraser, TGSA VP Internal Affairs
Renee Hendricks, TGSA VP Student Affairs
David Hollands, TGSA VP Communications
David Bak, TGSA VP Finance
Avinaash Persaud, TGSA VP Senator