I like to jump into any opportunity that mixes the best of both academic and social worlds. You know, having some fun while filling up those CV lines. I decided in August that I would do a solid for IU’s Ethnomusicology Student Association and serve as the liaison between the ethnomusicology/folklore graduate and undergraduate student associations.
As liaison, I go to one or two extra meetings per month and report back to one organization about all the events the other organization is planning and vice versa. My graduate peers were relieved to know I was happily willing to take on the position and the undergraduates seemed grateful to have a friendly contact with the graduate students.
From what I have observed, the relationships between the undergraduate and graduate students in our department depend on the efforts of the individuals. Some of the graduate students also teach undergraduate classes, so there may exist a distinct social divide. Otherwise, we have the chance to introduce ourselves at department-sponsored gatherings, but it’s just so easy to get stuck in a group of your familiar peers at these events.
Back when I was earning my BA in American Studies, my department was solely an undergraduate program. My peers and I were given full attention by the faculty, which was great, but I sometimes wish there had been grad students present who could pass down career advice like an older sibling. Fast forward to grad school, if only the undergraduate and graduate students realized how socially and professionally valuable it is to have both degree programs in one department!
It’s important that my graduate peers encourage and support the undergraduates, and by extension, the department as a whole. In October, the undergraduates organized a ghost walk tour where graduate students and faculty members were invited to recite haunting folktales of the university buildings. It was a huge success, and I know it meant so much to the undergrads to see their graduate colleagues participate.
I want to make an effort to integrate the events hosted by the graduates and undergraduates because there is untapped potential for meaningful professional and mentoring relationships. Though we do not share classes, I have enjoyed getting to know these students who have similar interests and passions as me. It’s exhilarating to hear about their experiences of applying to schools, and I can’t be more excited for their prospects!
On a final note, I find it amusing that both the undergraduate and graduate student associations have separately met and discussed their plans to decoratively repaint the staircase of the Folklore and Ethnomusicology department building. It’s my job to tell them that they both have the same idea, so I’m trying to sneakily merge these events into one big departmental porch party—I hope it works!