CUL to eliminate TA point system

Ever get free food because you are a Teaching Assistant (TA) or a friend of a TA? You are out of luck now, because funds in the Committee on Undergraduate Life (CUL) allocated for snacks at TA-led study sessions have worn thin. CUL members met last Thursday and decided to limit TAs’ ability to take groups of up to five students to any of the College’s snack stations and spend four dollars per student. The decision, to be put in effect on Friday, Dec. 7, currently calls for departments to apply for $100 Ephcards instead, for use by all of their TAs.

Previously, TAs filled out charge slips – subsequently taken out of the CUL budget – at the Snack Bar, Eco Café and Goodrich Coffee Bar. According to Stewart Johnson, head of the CUL and professor of mathematics, the budget became stretched as the policy became more widely used, so the CUL decided to remove TAs’ privilege. Since one of CUL’s goals is to facilitate quality interaction between faculty and students, Johnson said that professors can still utilize this policy.

Nevertheless, Johnson expressed regret for the changes. “This academic year, TAs were making good use of this policy,” he said. “It made for a great break during lab sessions in the Science Quad to pop over to the Eco Café for a snack.”

The new system allows TAs to use Ephcards as they previously used points, only now departments will be able to control spending more closely.

While Johnson asserted that no particular events precipitated the changes, some TAs pointed to their communal abuse of the system as a particular drain on funds. Instead of using the money to get snacks for the students they were TA-ing, some admitted to buying food and drinks for themselves and their friends.

“I only found out about the system two or three weeks before it closed down,” said one TA, who wished to remain anonymous. “After that, I used it three times, always bringing my friends along. Each time was for completely non-TA related activities.” He added that he was not the only TA to use the points in this manner.

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