GE Orientation: What Every GE Should Know

Congratulations on being awarded a GE appointment. Serving as a GE not only enhances the graduate experience and provides the student with professional development opportunities, but integrates the graduate student more fully into the university community. GEs are central to the University of Oregon's academic mission. Approximately 45% of our graduate students receive support through GE appointments.

STRIKING A CAREFUL BALANCE: GEs as Students, GEs as Employees

Your primary goal is to earn a graduate degree, so you are a student first. That said, as a GE and one of the university's 4,800 student employees, you have been hired to perform work that is central to the goals of your department/hiring unit. Because GEs are graduate students first, they may work, on average, no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year.

graduate student presenting to a groupAs a student, you are responsible for meeting all student conduct expectations and for observing all university academic policies, such as those outlined by the Registrar, Graduate School, your academic program/department. As a GE you are responsible for observing all relevant UO employment policies, such as those outlined by Human Resources, the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, the Graduate School, and the UO-GTFF Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Many GE assignments entail some degree of supervising, instructing, advising or counseling undergraduate students. For this reason, it's important that you be aware of the various campus resources available to undergraduate students. These same resources and services are available to you, as a graduate student, as well.

Please familiarize yourself with the following information. It serves as your orientation to the responsibilities, rights, benefits and potential challenges of serving as a GE. It also includes links to a variety of campus resources available to you as a GE and as a student.

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS FOR GEs

Graduate Classification. First, to be eligible to hold a GE appointment, you must be an admitted graduate student in one of the following classifications: Conditional Master's, Master's, Conditional Doctoral, Doctoral, or Law.

Satisfactory Progress Toward the Degree. Second, as a GE, you must demonstrate that you are maintaining satisfactory progress toward your degree and that you are in good standing. Good standing is defined by the Graduate School (e.g.., it includes maintaining a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 or greater) as well as by your graduate program. Contact your graduate program/department for program-specific criteria. Student conduct policy breaches may also impact a student's eligibility to hold a GE appointment as observing conduct policies is a part of being considered in good standing.
 
GEs demonstrate progress toward the degree by observing specific registration requirements:
 
Registration Requirements for Fall, Winter and Springphoto: graduate student study group GEs
  • During fall, winter, and spring, graduate students must register for and complete a minimum of nine graduate credits during each term of a GE appointment.  The courses that meet this requirement are those that apply to the graduate degree program.
  • Undergraduate courses cannot be used to meet the nine credit minimum unless they are courses specifically required by your department as a condition for completing your degree, such as language for the M.A. degree or academic courses determined by your department to be necessary for you to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of your degree.
  • Physical education courses (e.g.., swimming, yoga) and audited courses do not count toward the nine credit registration minimum.
  • Please be aware that failure to comply with the above points may result in the termination of a GE appointment.
 
Registration Requirements for Summer Term GEs
  • A graduate student may hold a GE appointment in the summer term without being registered for classes if the student does not require academic credit to satisfy program or degree requirements, or if the student finds that necessary courses are not offered in the summer term.
  • If a summer GE wants to register for summer courses, they must register for at least 3 graduate credits. During summer, the tuition waiver associated with a GE appointment or “Summer tuition waiver” (see below) will cover 3-16 credits. The courses that meet this requirement are those that apply to the graduate degree program. During the summer, GEs are responsible for 100% of mandatory fees if they choose to enroll.
  • GEs not enrolled for at least 5 graduate credits will have their pay subject to FICA.
  • GEs with F-1 or J-1 visas are exempt from FICA withholding (unless they have already passed the substantial presence test) even if they are enrolled for less than 5 graduate credits.
  • Courses coded as self-support that are not required for the degree (e.g.., physical education courses, overseas programs, some online courses) will not be covered by the GE/Summer tuition waiver. No self-support courses are covered by financial aid. Please be aware of this when signing up for classes. You may contact the Office of the Registrar with questions about self-support courses.
 
What happens if you fail to meet these requirements? The Graduate School performs an audit of enrollment shortly after each term begins. GEs not enrolled for 9 credits toward their degree will be given a period of time to increase enrollment. Those not in compliance by the end of the grace period may be asked to resign their GE appointment.  The Graduate School also reviews cumulative GPA and completion of 9 credits toward the degree at the end of each term. GEs found to have not met these requirements will be contacted and may lose eligibility to hold a GE in subsequent terms until established expectations are met. Your academic department and hiring unit contact will be included in these communications. Further, your academic program/department may also periodically review your progress toward degree. Failure to make adequate progress will jeopardize your eligibility to hold a GE appointment.
 
A breach of the student conduct policy may also impact a student's eligibility to hold a GE appointment as observing conduct policies is a part of being considered in good standing.
 
WORKING AS A GE
 
Workload.  GEs are appointed to work .20 to .49 FTE or, approximately 8-20 hours/week over the course of an 11-week term. Although GEs receive a monthly salary based on their three-month appointment and do not submit time sheets, they are encouraged to track their hours.
 
Hiring units are expected to provide information to GEs about work expectations and workload. In fact, each unit maintains a document called a General Duties and Responsibilities Statement (GDRS) in which this information can be found. GEs with questions about these expectations should talk to their supervisors. GEs who, during the course of their appointment, find that they are spending more time than expected to perform one or more duties should consult with their supervisors or with the person responsible for GE appointments in the unit (the student's name is usually found on the first page of each GDRS document).
 
Maximum FTE (.49). A student may have a GE appointment and also work as a student employee.  However, it is the policy of the University that appointment levels do not normally exceed a total of .49 FTE, counting both GE and student employment hours. In the summer term, GEs may be appointed to work more than .49 FTE. For more information, see Exceptions to the .49 FTE Limit during Summer Term.
 
Setting Expectations. It's important for employees and their supervisors to be on the same page. For this reason, we recommend GTFs presenting at GTF orientationjointly setting and documenting expectations and goals early in the term, putting in place routine opportunities to touch base, and reasonable plan for communicating efficiently and in a timely way. Resources for GEs and their supervisors include (1) the "Workload Allocation Form", which all hiring units have on-hand for documenting work duties and the range of time each duty should take per term (contact your department/unit head to obtain a copy of the form) and (2) the Graduate School's Guidelines for Good Practice in Graduate Education, which may help GEs and their supervisors (particularly for those who are also academic advisors) to discuss expectations.
 

Performance Evaluation. GEs who are assigned to lead a CRN-attached lab, discussion or course will be evaluated at the end of the term by students enrolled (this is done university-wide through DuckWeb). In addition, some hiring units have a well-established process and timeline for formally evaluating individual GEs' performance. Formal evaluations and student evaluations are often used by academic departments to determine subsequent GE appointments. To find out more about evaluations, talk to your supervisor, read your GDRS as well as Article 12, Evaluations, in the UO-GTFF Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

GEs who lead courses or lab/discussion sections may voluntarily administer a mid-term evaluation to their students or request to be videotaped in order to improve their teaching skills and ensure that students are getting the most out of the course. The Teaching Engagement Program (TEP), a great resource for teaching GEs and faculty, can assist you with these.

Addressing Performance Issues. Setting and documenting expectations early on is key to staving off performance issues. It is both the supervisor's and GE's responsibility to initiate a discussion about expectations. Furthermore, supervisors are encouraged to communicate with their GEs about any perceived performance issues as clearly and concretely as possible, and in a way that is timely and provides each GE with reasonable opportunity to make improvements. The use of informal discussion to resolve performance issues is encouraged. Formal discipline procedures are found in Article 16, Discipline and Discharge in the UO-GTFF CBA.

Teaching Awards. The Graduate School administers two university-wide teaching award competitions for GEs, the Kimble First Year Teaching Award (co-administered with the Teaching Engagement Program) and the Graduate Student Teaching Award for experienced GEs. Some academic departments also administer teaching awards.

GDRS. Each hiring unit must prepare a document, updated each year, called a General Duties and Responsibilities Statement (GDRS), that describes the conditions under which GE appointments and reappointments are made, information about workload and work assignment, health and safety, requirements for satisfactory academic progress, any established performance evaluation procedures, etc.

Mandatory GE Training.

The Graduate School provides a mandatory 4-hour training every term for all graduate students in their first term as a Graduate Employee (GE). This training was negotiated by the GTFF, and is part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It is required for all types of GEs, whether teaching, research, or administrative. Topics include general employment information, equity and inclusion, discrimination and sexual harassment policies, Graduate Employee reporting obligations and more.

The training will be offered at the beginning of each term. All graduate employees in the first term of their appointment must take the training. If the training is not taken in the first term of a student’s GE appointment, a cautionary letter will be placed in that GE’s file. If the GE fails to attend the training in the second term of their appointment, their GE appointment will end at the close of that term, and the appointment will not be renewed.

Mandatory Workplace Harassment Training. University employees, including GEs, are required to complete the Workplace Harassment Prevention online training (http://mandatory.uoregon.edu) within 90 days after beginning employment.
 

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect. Effective January 2, 2013, employees of Oregon higher education institutions, including graduate assistants (GEs),  are considered by law to be subject mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.

GE COMPENSATION

GEs are generally appointed by term-- fall, winter, spring, summer, or for the academic year (fall through spring). The standard appointment dates often do not line up with the academic calendar. For example, a standard fall GE appointment is 12 weeks long, from September 16 through December 15. However, the 11-week fall academic term (and, thus, the work of GEs with teaching-related assignments) begins at the end of September and ends in early December.  GEs with contiguous appointments over breaks are considered employed as GEs over the break and may not take on additional work over the break (e.g.., a fall and winter appointment is inclusive of winter break). Expectations for performing duties over the break, however, will vary by GE assignment.

Salary. Net monthly salary will vary depending on the hiring unit's established annual rates, GE level, FTE, the number of working days in a particular month, taxation, etc. GEs can set up direct deposit through DuckWeb or choose to pick up their paycheck at the University's Payroll Office. Find out more about salary.

Tuition and Fees. As a GE you are eligible to receive a tuition waiver during each term of appointment for 9-16 credits (excluding self-support courses-- see below) during fall, winter, spring, and summer, as well as subsidy toward the mandatory fees.

Upon reviewing and approving your appointment (as submitted by your hiring unit), the Graduate School will request that your tuition waiver (for 9-16 credits) and mandatory fee subsidy be set up. Find out more about what's covered by your tuition and fees benefit.

Be sure to pay your portion of the mandatory fees on time each term. Those paying after the deadline will be assessed interest.  You may make the minimum payment on your billing statement; remaining installments will be subject to interest and billing charges.  To review student account and billing information, visit the Business Affairs web site. Contact the Graduate School as soon as possible if you believe that you have been charged for tuition or full mandatory fees, or if you have questions.

During the summer, GEs are responsible for 100% of mandatory fees if they choose to enroll.

Tuition is replaced by a course fee for any course labeled "self-support" in the class schedule. Self-support course fees are not covered by the GE tuition waiver unless the course is confirmed by the department as being required for the graduate degree.

Health Insurance. GEs have access to GE-specific insurance during each term of appointment, but must actively enroll in GE insurance as the insurance plan is administered by the GTFF and not by the university. GEs must sign up for the insurance directly with the GTFF at the start of each GE appointment period and must pay their portion (5%) of the premium for the term. For example, if you have a GE appointment for all year, you should sign up in fall; if you have a winter-only appointment, sign up for just winter term. Find out more about insurance.

All international students are required to carry health insurance and are automatically enrolled in and billed for the University Health Center's (UHC) UO Student Health Benefits Plan. Remember, if you sign up for the GTFF insurance, you must complete a waiver request form through the myUOHealth Student Portal (link is external) to be removed from the student insurance (and to receive a credit for the premiums). Deadlines apply. Please note: The waiver will be in effect the entire academic year, so if your GE position ends in the middle of the year, you will need to re-enroll in the UO Student Insurance Plan.

Ensuring Timely Pay. To help ensure timely pay, GEs should consult with their hiring unit as early as possible to make sure that all required paperwork has been completed and submitted. For more complete information about the appointment process, visit Graduate Students: Your Role in the GE Appointment Process.

GRADUATE TEACHING FELLOWS FEDERATION (GTFF) AND THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (CBA)

All 1400+ teaching, research and administrative GEs at the University of Oregon are represented by a labor union, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF). The GTFF typically contacts new GEs with information about active membership, fairshare dues, and insurance.

Every two years, the GTFF and university negotiate an agreement that addresses such topics as work environment, personnel files and performance evaluations, grievances, appointment and reappointment procedures, minimum salary, tuition and fees, and the university's contribution to the GE insurance plan and premiums. The GTFF is a resource for GEs with regard to interpretation and application of the UO-GTFF Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

RESIGNING YOUR APPOINTMENT, TAKING A LEAVE OF ABSENCE, OR WITHDRAWING FROM THE UNIVERSITY

Resignation. The decision to resign your GE appointment, especially in the middle of an appointment period, can have significant personal, academic and financial implications. GEs are encouraged to consult with their supervisor or director of graduate studies before resigning. To learn more about potential financial impacts, feel free to contact the Graduate School. A written statement (hard copy or email) is required to resign your appointment. Please cite the effective date of your resignation and, to the extent possible, a reason.

Leave of Absence. Graduate students who choose to go on-leave from their graduate program during a term in which they have a GE appointment must resign their GE appointment for the on-leave term(s) by submitting a letter (e-mail) of resignation to their supervisor. For more information on taking a leave of absence, visit the Academic Policies and Consultation section of our website. The UO-GTFF CBA requires that GEs who are going to miss more than one work week contact the Graduate School. 

Complete Withdrawal. If you resign from your GE position or withdraw from the University, you will lose your tuition and fee waiver and insurance, unless you have worked a minimum of .20 FTE for the term. If you are no longer eligible for a tuition waiver, you will be billed for 10-100% of the tuition and fees. The percentage and amount billed will depend on your resignation and/or withdrawal date. For more information, see the Tuition and Course Fee Refund Schedule on the Registrar's web site and consult the GE Complete Withdrawal information on this site.

RESOURCES FOR GEs

Academic Advising, Office of. A useful resource for undergraduate students, every GE who works in a classroom setting should be familiar with the services of, and programs within, Academic Advising. These include advising students about general ed requirements and choosing a major.

Accessible Education Center (AEC). Provides attention and support to individual students; emphasizes systemic change to increase accessibility and inclusivity across campus. Students with disabilities can request accommodations to improve their academic experience. The AEC staff provides consultation and training to GEs and faculty regarding accessibility in the classroom.

Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Office of. A resource for graduate students who, in their capacity as GEs (employees), have questions or concerns related to equal opportunity, diversity, sexual harassment, and prohibited discrimination.

Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC).  CoDaC provides expertise in the areas of multicultural organization development, student affairs, mediation/conflict resolution, and curriculum development. They conduct multicultural research, offer innovative workshops, and partner with departments/units to become more inclusive, accessible, and aware of their organizational cultures.

Center for Media and Education Technologies (UO Libraries). CMET provides classroom technology, educational video support, and assistance with media development for teaching and research. A variety of hardware and equipment is available for checkout and they provide on-call support for classrooms.

Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence. CMAE staff "specializes in providing a culturally supportive environment that empowers self-identified students of color to fulfill their educational and career goals."

Dean of Students, Office of. Within the Dean of Students Office, a wealth of resources are available to GEs in their capacity as instructors as well as their in their capacity as students. These include Conflict Resolution Services, LGBT Support, Substance Abuse Prevention, etc.

Information Services: Academic Services. Academic Services "promotes the innovative use of technology by supporting researchers, faculty, staff and students" by providing technology consultations on a variety of topics and other services. Audio and video conferencing, computer labs and collaboration centers, educational technology, and more are available through Information Services.

Teaching Engagement Program. TEP provides a wide range of resources for instructors, from workshops for first time teachers, instruction on effective assessment,  technology in the classroom and other useful topics, to private consultation, classroom observation, midterm feedback and videotaping. Jointly with the Graduate School, TEP offers the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for GEs. TEP also co-hosts the Graduate School's fall Teaching GE Orientation.

Teaching and Learning Center The University Teaching and Learning Center offers courses, workshops, and individual appointments on a variety of topics (speed reading, money matters, test anxiety, etc.). The center has math and writing labs and tutors, and offers standardized test prep and study skills support.

Work-Life Resources. A program within Human Resources, Work-Life Resources helps individuals and departments effectively manage personal, family, and community life with work and educational responsibilities. Specific services include resources for student parents, childcare referral, summer camp and school information, elder care support, on-campus lactation support, and the UO Families listserv.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST INFORMATION

You are responsible for being aware of the University’s policy regarding conflicts of interest and abuses of power associated with sexual or romantic relationships between faculty/staff members, including GEs, and students. Such relationships, by their very nature, may raise the question of conflict of interest when the GE is in a supervisory role over a student. The policy puts forth guidelines for avoiding relationships that interfere with the positive learning environment we seek to provide for all students. Please review the following policy: http://policies.uoregon.edu/conflicts-interest-and-abuses-power-sexual-o.... Additional information can be found here: http://workplacerelationships.uoregon.edu/. If you have questions or would like to confidentially discuss a particular situation, contact the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.
 

DISCRIMINATION-RELATED COMPLAINT AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

GEs are encouraged to pursue employment-related discrimination complaints via the GTFF. Concerns that arise in a context outside of the assigned GE duties should be pursued through the student complaint procedures outlined by the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.
 
 
GERELATED POLICIES
In addition to what can be found within the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Graduate School administers a number of policies that can affect GE appointments, assignments, etc. These include:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

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