The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday December 5th

TA Meal Canceled Due to Poor Planning

The annual TA Appreciation Barbecue, first held in 1998, gives graduate students and the University community the chance to gather and unwind over food and festivities in Polk Place.

But Branson Page, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, sent a message to the GPSF listserv Monday after hearing from former Student Body President Justin Young that the event would not take place.

The e-mail included a message from Young that stated, "I apologize to those TAs that will be disappointed by this, but this in no way reflects a lack of appreciation for our TAs but a problem of poor planning. Sorry."

Page said he was surprised to hear the event was canceled. He said that when he ran for his position, he thought the GSPF organized the barbecue. But after learning that undergraduate student body officers were in charge of planning and funding, Page said he assumed things were taken care of.

He added that GPSF had set aside funds to offer financial support. "I'm certain we would've done what we could to help them out."

Page said he has received several e-mails from disappointed TAs over the GPSF listserv. One of these replies was sent by Thomas Pegelow, a 5th-year graduate student and teaching assistant in the history department.

Pegelow, who is a vegetarian, said he has enjoyed attending the barbecue the past few years for the social element rather than the free food.

But he said he most appreciated the event as an end-of-the-year thank you from the students he helped in the classroom.

"TAs certainly tend to get the short end of the stick in many ways," Pegelow said. "The barbecue, at least on a symbolic level, shows appreciation from our students. It's a nice thing for them to do."

Although Pegelow said most teaching assistants do not care that the event was canceled, there is concern for what he called "the continuing trend for TAs to be stuck in the background."

"The real issue is not the barbecue," Pegelow said.

"The real issue is how the administration treats us, why we aren't considered real workers so we can get benefits and a living wage."

Learning from this year's cancellation, Page said he will work with Student Body President Jen Daum to help reinstate the TA barbecue in 2003.

"I'll assure you that we make sure it happens next year."

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