Anthropology Graduate Student Association
The Anthropology Graduate Student Association (AGSA) is the representative student body for all PhD and MA students in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. Founded in 2013, AGSA emerged out of a student interest in improving interdepartmental communication, student solidarity, and the intellectual community of graduate students within the department. AGSA organizes a range of annual events including a kick-off gathering every September, a welcome event each March for prospective students accepted to the PhD program, and an annual Town Hall with the chair of the department and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) in May.
AGSA has been active in campus-wide discussions and debates, and has worked with other departments since 2014. It also supported the campus-wide graduate student workers unionization drive. AGSA was one of the earliest graduate student groups to endorse forming a campus-wide union for graduate student workers, and it acts in solidarity with graduate student workers at New York University, Harvard, and elsewhere across the United States.
AGSA supports ongoing student initiatives such as seminars, screenings, lectures, and workshops that cover a diverse range of issues. Past examples have included a working group exploring ethnographic film and media, discussions with faculty on the ethics and practices of fieldwork, and a seminar on alternative employment prospects outside the academy. AGSA also oversees two departmental listservs—one for PhD students and one for MA students—used to facilitate conversation and build community among the graduate student body.
Currently, the structure of AGSA is as follows: each PhD cohort appoints two representatives among themselves to sit on AGSA, as does the annual MA cohort. Those in the field can choose to appoint a representative in absentia who participates via email. Cohort representatives are the liaisons between their cohorts and AGSA, just as AGSA is the overall liaison between faculty and the graduate student body. Appointments last for one calendar year from January to December, with the exception of graduating students who may be replaced by other members of their cohort in the fall semester, if possible. Incoming PhD students are extended invitations in the fall and are expected to have two representatives appointed by the start of spring semester. Additionally, AGSA must include both sociocultural and archaeological students.