Anonymous MA Department Chair presents us with a very good question. --PGOAT
I’m the chair at a well-regarded MA Program and I have a beef to express. What’s with the proliferation of student conferences? It seems that almost every day I get another flyer or e-mail announcing a graduate student or, God forbid, undergraduate student conference. Our bulletin board is plastered with them. They are simply mushrooming. What’s the deal with this? I suppose that it might be good practice for students to organize conferences, deliver papers, and meet peers. But from my point of view, there’s a problem. If we encourage our students to participate and they are accepted to various programs (a not unlikely scenario given how many conferences there are), then they look to me and the department for funding. We already have limited travel funds to support our faculty, and there is no separate slush fund to draw from to help our students travel to Illinois, California, Florida, New Jersey, and wherever.
I also don’t believe that the faculty members at most of the places sponsoring such conferences truly want to attend and sit through papers by a myriad of students, some perhaps good, some likely not-so-good. Frankly, I wouldn’t. Do the faculty members encourage this? Do they actually show up? Are such conferences are a good idea? Why are they on the increase? Do they really help anyone? I would like to hear your opinion. Can you please tell your fellow graduate students to stop organizing these conferences? If not, can you recommend an attitude or policy I should take in advising our own students?
Thank you for letting me vent here.
--Anonymous MA Department Chair