There are five official roles for graduate students to participate in the Department and University:
Graduate Representatives to the Faculty: Each year, the philosophy graduate students elect two departmental representatives-one in their first three years of the program and one in the fourth year or beyond. These "Grad Reps" coordinate various graduate student activities within the department and serve as a line of communication between graduate students and the faculty. Duties include collecting both informal and quantitative feedback on graduate student opinion about departmental matters (such as feedback on job candidates), working with the department chair and other faculty members on departmental initiatives, addressing graduate student proposals and concerns by initiating discussion and collective action, and leading official graduate student meetings.
Member of Departmental Speakers Committee: Participates in decisions by the faculty-student committee in choosing speakers, timing of events, and organization of events. Has special responsibility for recruiting participants for the Works in Progress talks.
Graduate Representative to the Graduate Student Association: The GSA Rep is a voting member of the Graduate Student Senate and an external advocate and liaison for the department. They vote on legislative matters including decisions about how to budget and spend GSA taxes levied on all Rice graduate students, and may sit on university-sanctioned committees if they choose. Meetings are held once per month. They also keep the department informed of, and represent the department's opinion on, activities and initiatives conducted by the GSA. There is ample opportunity for professional development.
Graduate Representative to the Humanities Graduate Student Association: Represents the interests of departmental students to t he HGSA and communicates to philosophy students' issues and information of relevance to them.
Ethics Bowl Organizers: The department, in conjunction with the University and the School of Humanities, organizes, hosts, and staffs the annual Houston High School Ethics Bowl, a regional qualifier for the National High School Ethics Bowl competition. Teams of students from area high schools compete in an argument-based analysis of ethical case studies that emphasizes dialogue and civility among participants. One or more graduate student organizers from the department help coordinate the Bowl at Rice. This includes working closely with a faculty sponsor and our outside organizer who recruits and works with participating schools, leading training meetings for volunteer judges and moderators (who consist primarily of graduate students from the department), working with the department chair and the Dean's office on issues relating to funding and equipment, publicizing the event by working with representatives of official Rice publications as well as with a design professional to produce fliers and posters for the competition, and coordinating and overseeing the event on competition day.
Students who have any of these roles contribute to the well-being and good functioning of the Department and University. Serving in these, and similar roles, also provides potentially valuable learning experiences in a broader academic context.