The Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA) at NYU sponsors events aimed at enriching graduate student life in the Department of Anthropology, both socially and academically. The Association constitutes a key link between students in different fields, between students and the faculty, and between the department and the rest of the Graduate School.
A welcome letter from AGSA is often the first social contact that incoming graduate students have with current students in the department. Through the ensuing doctoral experience, AGSA continues to provide social support and social outlets. First, AGSA members maintain a listserv that connects graduate students to useful information about events, activities, and opportunities. AGSA usually sponsors one off-campus party per semester for graduate students, and assists in organizing the three annual on-campus department-wide parties. In addition, AGSA often hosts a reception for those associated with NYU Anthropology at each year’s meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).
AGSA contributes to the intellectual life of the department in numerous ways. The AGSA Symposium, in which the graduate students in the department present their research, is one of the highlights of every academic year. AGSA sponsors periodic brown-bag lunches, where faculty from this and other departments, along with graduate students recently back from the field, can discuss their research in a more informal setting. In the past, we have also organized interdepartmental lectures and conferences, and a weekly series of ethnographic films.
In addition, AGSA acts as an advocate for the quality of graduate student life, and offers a platform for students to participate in the department and the Graduate School in a more formal fashion. In recent years, AGSA has helped to institute a Student Committee for Faculty Searches, allowing graduate students to have a voice in the selection of new faculty members. AGSA acts as a liaison between the graduate students in the Department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Student Council—our primary source of funding. Among other things, AGSA uses these funds to purchase anthropological journals for graduate student use in the Annette B. Weiner Graduate Lounge and Library.
All anthropology graduate students are nominally members of AGSA. Although participation in AGSA activities is not mandatory, subscribing to the listserv and attending monthly or bimonthly meetings is a great way to get involved in the life of the department. At some time or another most graduate students, either in their second or third year, choose to take on a more formal role as an AGSA officer. There are no elected offices and, ideally, officers take on responsibilities collaboratively. Being an AGSA Officer is a voluntary, but essential, part of the socialization process within the department.