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Math and CS TAs may get pay cut

Students have developed a petition in response to the possibility that the College may cut all funding for TA workshops and graders in the Mathematics and Computer Science department.

Faculty from both departments met with Provost Sandra Greer on Fri., Jan. 23, to discuss this proposal among other topics.

Greer said that these were only preliminary discussions, and that next year’s budgets will not be approved by the Board of Trustees until May.

Soon after announcing the proposal, Math Department Head Zvezdekina Stankova sent an e-mail to all of the Math and Computer Science classes.

“I ask you very strongly NOT to send personal e-mails to the Provost regarding any budget cuts for next year, because this may not be a positive way to help the department. If you wish to communicate something to the Provost’s office, it must be done in a respectful manner and it is best if done in only one letter,” the e-mail read.

Heeding Stankova’s advice, students created a petition on, stating that they feel the proposed budget cuts would harm students and deprive them of academic support when they need it most.

“Standard teaching alone, with the reduction of graders and workshops, cannot deliver the level of mathematics education that the students of Mills College deserve,” the petition reads.

“I urge our administration to negotiate with the department of Mathematics to find a solution that will preserve the proven capability of the Math department to train Mills students at the highest levels of quality,” it continued.

As of Tue., Jan. 27, the petition had garnered 107 signatures from math and computer science majors, as well as some students from other departments and even a few concerned parents. Several individuals signed anonymously.

Senior Julia Johari posted a link to the petition on student-news. “Let the College know that we really need support for women in this traditionally male-dominated field, and take a moment to sign this petition.”

Junior Chelsea DeSouza said she already received a pay cut after working as a TA in the math department for the past two years.

As the eighth person to sign the petition, she explained that it is important for students to understand their mistakes in order to learn from them, and that graders help make that possible.

DeSouza also emphasized the crucial role that workshops and recitations play in the learning process.

They “set Mills women up for success by giving the students more personalized attention, and the ability to reiterate concepts that the professor did not have time to go through,” she said.

Stankova said in an e-mail “I can say that both the faculty and the administration of Mills are working together toward ensuring the highest quality of education and the success of our academic programs in the future, despite the financial situation in the country.”

She added, “We are hopeful that all major and important ingredients of the math and CS programs . will be preserved, and the two programs will continue to be the strong and attractive programs that they have been at Mills for many years.”

Greer said that she and Holmgren will continue to hold discussions with faculty in all departments regarding the best ways to deal with the current financial crisis.